We should all ask what is really pushing our world today? How have social media helped in influencing our stories, products and marketing strategies? Today, influencing goes beyond taking advertising to TV or radio or getting a huge billboard on the street, internet is a home to many big influencers because of their huge followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media handle. Let’s take few examples.
The famously failed music festival in the Bahamas, was paying for when it paid Ms. Jenner, along with Bella Hadid (12.7 million Instagram followers), Hailey Baldwin (10 million) and Emily Ratajkowski (12.8 million), to drum up excitement via promotional posts with said women cavorting in bikinis on a beach. It’s what, to a certain extent, Pepsi was paying for when it hired Ms. Jenner (sense a theme here?) and put her in an ill-conceived ad in which she uses a soda to soften up a police officer at a riot. It’s what Vogue Arabia was paying for when it put an only-semi-veiled Gigi Hadid on the cover of its first issue.
Decision on influencer expands from taking individual choice to getting reputation at stake. The Fyre Festival is now facing a class-action lawsuit in which the defendants include not only the organizers, but also a number of “Jane Does” who helped promote the festival. In another incident, a nonfan has tweeted Selena Gomez (who has 120 million fans as of Wednesday) for being a joke after representing different brands such as Vuitton, Verizon, and for being previous face of coca cola.
As we go further down the rabbit hole of personal branding, new agencies are springing up with the mission of connecting brands to influencers and monetizing social media presence (names like MuseFind, UP Influence and Instabrand), and traditional talent agencies like CAA and WME/IMG are signing up YouTube stars or helping their clients transform themselves into social media mavens. Magazines and ad agencies are measuring a model’s attraction not just by his or her physical dimensions, but also by the number of followers. It is increasingly clear that a disconnect exists between the imperative to make as much money as possible out of your influence as fast as possible, and the need to be highly selective about how you wield your influence in order to preserve its equity.
Traditional celebrities may have to find their veins in the new virtual world of social media followership to be a face of any brand at all.