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  • Anthony O'Brien Bedford

The ever-evolving arena of social media influencers

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Influencer marketing has become such a prevalent part of the marketing and PR mix over the past several years that it would now be inaccurate to call it “new media”, instead this staple of brand-building has become an integral part of consumer engagement. However, have we adjusted our thinking as consumers as we emerge into a post-pandemic world? Have we become more savvy to commercial content, and as a result do influencers need to step up their game to continue as a viable marketing avenue for brands?

To quote a recent article in Forbes Magazine by Kelly Ehlers, The kids who used to grow up wanting to be an astronaut or president now want to be social media stars. According to a Morning Consult study, which surveyed 2,000 Americans ages 18-38, 54% of young Americans said they would become an influencer if given the opportunity.” While this tells us that the desire to be an influencer is alive and well, do consumers wish to continue consuming content? At times we can feel from the average social media user, a sense of jadedness around influencers and their content, especially if you read forum websites such as Tattle, where we see anonymous members of the public share their often vindictive and false musings on influencers and their private lives. Has this come about because of envy or is there a deeper reason for a growing resentment from some cohorts towards influencers?

It is often easy to disregard the work influencers do from an outside perspective, especially amongst those who know very little about content creation and this can often lead to ill will. However, like any profession, especially when you work for yourself, the work can be much more gruelling than it may appear. While we see a twenty second reel on our Instagram feed, we do not know the hours of preparation that may have gone into bringing this to life, the equipment required, the editing skills and so on. Like with many things, consumers see the finished result and often take this for granted, not knowing or willing to acknowledge the time and effort it takes to produce a high standard output.

With the rise of TikTok and the Gen Z influencer, there is no doubt that social media and its leaders, influencers, will continue to be a viable and very effective marketing and PR tool. What marketeers and leading professionals need to focus on is how to best utilise these influencers to achieve success for their brand or clients. We are savvier as consumers and as a result influencers do need to step up their game, and many of them have, but have marketing and PR professional done the same? In some cases, yes, but it can be difficult to run an entire marketing dept. and still find the time to stay abreast of the latest TikTok trends, that is why it is so often crucial for brands to engage the expertise of agencies that have experience and success creating influencer campaigns that have yielded tangible results.

The key to impactful results through the avenues of marketing + PR have always been and continue to be intrinsically linked to social listening. Consumers are savvier, influencers have stepped up their game and are bringing new tools and skills to the table, so brand owners and those in the professional area need to evolve and adapt too. Asking an influencer to simply hold a product in a photo is no longer enough, it hasn’t been enough for a long time really. Consumers want to feel authenticity, they are not jaded of influencers, but they are tired of being sold to by brands in an inauthentic manner. Content must be organic and creative in order to be truly engaging and working with the right influencer or communications expert to bring that to life is now a must for brands to survive and thrive in the ever-evolving arena of social media influencing.


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