Considering how much time all the people in the world spend on their phones every single day, it is safe to assume that a: Our eyesight is terrible, and b: We all want to feel pretty not for ourselves, but for others in this binary augmented reality of a world. So, it is safe to say that whenever we follow an influencer, we feel that they’re either just a pretty face with no brains, and/or to be an influencer ourselves. There’s no shame in feeling the latter emotion, but there is an issue with the term “influencer” itself.
We all know what the word influencer means, but what we don’t realise is that it is just isn’t a word anymore, it is now a money-making concept which is now called “influencer marketing”. Influencer Marketing refers to the idea wherein brands approach influencers for the promotion of their products, and stand to gain literally 5 times their expenditure, which can literally be one third of their other marketing strategies’ costs.
Influencer marketing has now emerged as one of the most dominant forms of marketing which is now being extensively used by companies in order to promote their products at a fraction of the cost they incurred with prior marketing strategies, with a chance to gain more than what they did from what they were doing. The fashion industry has been leveraging this effect the most extensively, and has allowed it to increase its own revenues, as well as the revenues of the “influencer industry.”
Yep, you heard that right. The influencer industry has grown quite a lot over the past few years, since any decently good-looking person can post reels and pictures of them in their underwear on Instagram to whip their “followers” into a frenzy. As of last year, 19% of marketers have a budget anywhere between $1000-$5000, which 18% having budgets ranging from $100,000-$500,000, and 7% of them having budgets exceeding $1 million.
So, the next time you see someone with more than 20,000 followers on Instagram have a Zara/H&M/Urbanic/Shein (RIP) haul, you know that they were paid for that haul, even in spite of the fact that that very person, (sorry, influencer) was criticizing the same brands for practicing fast fashion practices the other day.
Furthermore, what helps this industry more than anything is their appeal of a high quality expenses-paid life of glamour and fun, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be paid for going to parties, staying at Maldives and just socializing in general, all while you’re looking “pretty asf”? No one would pass on the opportunity if it landed in their laps, because humans always want to hear good things about ourselves even if they’re not true, but when someone else is doing the same thing, they’re looked down upon.
I realize that the last sentence of the above paragraph is ironic, because I’m writing an article that kind of ridicules people for being influencers, but also saying that no one would not pass up on the opportunity if it landed in their lap. I guess that is the reality of the world, and that we will always hate what we can’t have.
Nevertheless, the real problem with influencer marketing is not the big bucks that are earned by all parties involved, but by the unrealistic standards being set. We all know that Instagram is a scam and that pretty people don’t necessarily look pretty without makeup, but we still follow them and see their stories every day on Instagram and then go on Twitter and rant about how toxic Instagram is.
These unrealistic standards are something that really throw a spanner in the works for people. To provide an example, we need not look back too far into the past, but only recently. A group of influencers had a supposed party at someone’s place and posted it all over social media. What the ironic thing here is that we had as a country, just recovered from the horrific events of the second wave, and that those very people were urging everyone to stay indoors so as to not spread the effect of the virus to anyone howsoever.
But as per the stories that were posted, there were no masks at the party, and no proper social distancing measures in place (let’s face it, no matter how rich you are, Mumbai houses will always be small-ish). What may be the case is that majority of them had at least received one does of the vaccine, but it still didn’t warrant having a party with a roomful of people, did it?
I realise that this article has taken a turn from being an economic case study to being a critical rant, but the reason for such a transition is that regardless of how big an industry is, or is expected to be, its valuation will always be dependent on the material that it is being backed by. Just like the fact that there couldn’t be an increase in CDO bonds when default rates were at an all time high back in 2008, the influencer industry is solely focused on public appearances, which is working for now. But the day that people cease to be “influenced” is the day when this industry will take a nose dive into oblivion.
But who am I kidding? Humans will never not want to get paid for getting attention, beauty and fame. And based on how potent these three constituents of human nature are, this industry is in it for the long run, and until the time that we realize that getting paid for attention isn’t enough (which will never happen), this industry will continue to always, thrive. And this is exactly why, this is the best marketing strategy that has ever been implemented in the world.