Animation | People following a Social media influencer

If we summarised the last, it would be the year of the ‘Influencer’.

Influencers are people who have a large social media following and use their presence online to endorse brands and socially market to people.

Hashtags and likes have really had a moment and we’ve probably ‘liked and subscribed’ to more YouTube channels that we’re willing to admit.

There’s never been a better time to be an average Joe with niche interests and products to peddle. People now spend more time on mobile search than they do searching the internet on any other device.

According to Digital Information World, the average person spends a reported 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media and there’s a good chance that in between scrolling and leaving comments underneath another Kardashian selfie, we’ve seen a post with a #ad caption. The days of brands solely depending on carefully crafted television ads and copy are behind us and the celebrity or ‘influencer’ endorsement is our new reality.

Are we inclined to buy products that influential people peddle?

Apparently so, if the Advertising Standard Association (ASA) is anything to go by. The ASA has sent letters to a number of celebrities, some of whom are household names, questioning how they operate. Influencers now have to disclose whether they’ve been paid to advertise products or services or if they genuinely enjoy using the product or service they’re posting about.

The truth is, the people we follow online are selling products to us which can be more effective because of the emotional ties we have to that person. But has our inclination to believe someone we admire says about a particular product and even attempt to start using the products and services they use changed our perception of reality and how we should lead our lives?

DJ Khaled, a popular hip-hop artist and producer is a brand ambassador Cîroc, a vodka brand. DJ Khaled is also a Muslim who doesn’t drink alcohol and so advertising a beverage you don’t consume can be problematic in the eyes of the ASA. DJ Khaled has since included the #ad hashtag in his posts in which he’s advertising the beverage.

But how many people may have been influenced to consume and buy this beverage because of the famous and very influential face that has been peddling it? How many people aren’t taking what they see with a pinch of salt but being ‘influenced’ into thinking that behind the posts and filters is someone’s real life.

It is important to note that before advertising guidelines of social media apps changed and became quite strict, DJ Khaled had neglected to make note of which posts where ads he was being paid to promote.

How have our spending habits and lifestyles been influenced?

How is influencer marketing going to change the advertising industry and marketing strategies as more people interact on their mobiles and get less of their information and entertainment from large 32-inch televisions? People have shunned ad breaks for Netflix and news channels for Facebook’s Newsfeed. As more people look to Instagram and Snapchat for emerging trends, trips to book and lifestyles to emulate.