Are Influencers for all or only for a chosen few?
Kirjoittanut: Preciouso James Jr. Deposa - tiimistä Fusée.
Examining the Beauty Industry’s Use of Social Influencers.
By: Vincent Bitana , Preciouso James Deposa and John MM Mallari
“Influencers think that because they have some audience, they have the power. And of course they have some power, but they should be careful in how they use it”. – Tim Bax
In this age of high-scale globalization in information and communication technology, the word “influence” expanded beyond its standard definition. (Jalliet 2021) For many being an influencer seems like the dream. You get to go to cool events, are sent free products, have thousands to even millions of people who look up to you, along with several other perks. This lifestyle seems almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yes and no. There are numerous studies on reexamining and redefining the nuances of influence in every aspect of daily life; understanding its diversity allows for conversations that challenge the perceived and actual social impacts of influence. We will also see how it has evolved over the centuries and sift through the advantages and disadvantages of being an Influencer. Lastly, our personal reflections and insights on how we as a group view the said topic.
- EVOLUTION OF INFLUENCING
As the world is changing, the way to influence is also changing. The traditional way of influencing such as radio and television were the two most powerful tools to advertise any products or should you want to get followers. But nowadays, through advanced technology, we are able to widely express ourselves in the means of digital platforms, and these platforms are global, hence the reach of influencing is wider. According to Gillin (2008) in his survey among the communications professionals surveyed, 57% said that social media tools appeared important and valuable to their campaigns, and the top three tools that are most used in their organization are blogs, online video, and social networks.
In the past, only those who were famous personalities can be paid to influence the target audience to buy any products, but now, as long as you have an internet connection and the guts, you can be an influencer. Those who used digital platforms to influence audiences are called “Social Media Influencers” or “digital influencers.” They are the new type of independent third-party endorsers who molded and changes the attitudes of the audience through social media (Freberg et al., 2011:90). They are “regular people” who have become “celebrities” by creating content on, for example, their private life or subject of interest, on their social media channel. They usually have a great number of followers and have an influence on their followers. Content may be produced on several platforms e.g., Instagram, Youtube, or Snapchat. (Lou & Yuan 2019). They affect the decisions of others using their distinct niche, because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience (Geyser, W., 2022). They spread information, inspiration, and ideas (Johnstone and Lindh, 2018). Chopra et al (2020) stated that these influencers change customers’ behavior by increasing their knowledge, creating awareness, recommending, and influencing them to purchase certain products as trustworthy and credible sources of information and inspiration.
Freberg et al. (2011) enumerated specific influencer characteristics based on their research and these are: verbal, smart, ambitious, productive, and poised as the most positive characteristics for both the influencers and the brand they were advertising. On the other side, they are also trusted for a product because of their consumer peer status. They are relatable and credible as they connected with their audience by personally sharing their opinion on products through their social posts by giving advice and recommendation (Smith, 2010, p.176). Another characteristic of social media influencers is that they are good at word-of-mouth, or they call it electronic word-of-mouth which is more effective because consumers believe it to be more credible and trustworthy (Lee & Yuon, 2009). Aside from being relatable, Forbes (2016) added the list of their characteristics as knowledgeable on the business they are in and the product they advertise. They are helpful in giving their opinions and advice, as well as they are confident and articulate—they present the information on the products or message to the audience clearly both visually and verbally.
- THE UNDERSTANDING OF DIVERSITY ALLOWS AND CHALLENGES THE PERCEIVED.
Solis (2010) explored a modified definition of influence where it has the potential to produce desirable and measurable outcomes and actions. There is already a broad implication that anyone can be a person of influence– after all, anyone can empower. However, as its meaning continues to be complex, especially in social media, influence entails a certain kind of moral responsibility, which a chosen few can only achieve.
The definition of influence varies depending on the context. Broadly speaking, it pertains to the ability to compel change without the fear of punishment or a guarantee of a reward (Lucas and Baxter, 2012). Its synonymy with power is often seen in power relations contexts, where the relationship between the influencer and the influenced is center stage. Pontis and Blandford (2015) provide another perspective on redefining influence, using the academic lens to highlight knowledge construction and interactive information seeking.
Influence now becomes a complex tool for people to build understanding and make informed decisions. Expertise in information is a valuable aspect of being influential, as people rely on those who have existing knowledge to solve an issue.
These notions reflect how vital social media is as a platform for influence since it provides a medium to contribute information, and with knowledge comes change. Public perceptions of macro and micro social media influencers differ due to their broad scope; at this point, anyone who has a certain amount of expertise on a subject and has access to the internet can be an influencer. From beauty products to gaming to professional services to even politics, influencers are everywhere, and they can be anyone.
However, it continues to be a challenge for researchers to determine their scope of influence. Measuring the scale of influence of influencers can be difficult due to the complex intricacies of social media platforms and how far they reach. It also calls into question the perceptions of public audiences towards different types of personalities; after all, to be influenced, there has to be a sense of kinship and identification of identity.
Influencers influence when they have a common ground with those they influence, whether through similar interests, humor, opinions, and ideas. A study by Freberg et al. (2011) found that social media influencers are more likely to impact the lives of their followers than CEOs, as they are more accessible to sought-after advice and reassurance than the skeptical and distant impressions of the latter. With this, influencers of all sorts do have a powerful medium regardless of their content, so it remains crucial to redefine the kind of influence they give to their audiences.
There is a common misconception that influencers do not work that hard, which is quite far from the truth. Like just about everything, being an influencer has its pros and cons. It is not all just a glamorous lifestyle and posting a picture to Instagram every now and then. It takes hard work, dedication, and some thick skin.
As anyone can be an influencer now due to technology, there are obvious advantages and disadvantages that can sprout due to this. There are glaring advantages we can see, first is the thought that you are your own boss and have the luxury of being flexible in time. It is also perceived as easy money making industry, can easily build a community and lastly, the notion of being instantly famous if done right.
Of course when citing the advantages of being an influencers, we should also look at the disadvantages according to (McFadden 2021). He highlighted a struggle of people that decided to be in the path of influencing. Although, it may be an easy money making business. It is believed that one’s career will still be uncertain and may somehow loose their own identity while in process of building their community. Another disadvantages of being an influencer is the instability of emotions because of not having a normal life and may lead to an abuse whether physical or emotional.
- DETERMINES THE ACTUAL SOCIAL IMPACTS OF INFLUENCE
Optimistically speaking, influence denotes the correct type of influence– this paper first defined it as the empowering kind where actions and outcomes are productive and measurable. In organizational structures, influence goes hand in hand with respect and esteem.
As such, being a person of influence implies a moral responsibility where they make sure that in whatever level of expertise in their fields, their influence contributes to the betterment of society. Influencers are leaders in their way, as they help others reach their goals in ways they may not be able to do on their own (Smith et al., 2015).
Answering the question “are all can be influencers?” yes if the person possesses those above characteristics. Social Influencer Theory Social learning theory helps one understand why influencers are influential in the first place. Reasoning that people can acquire new patterns of behavior by watching others, Bandura (1971) wrote, “On the basis of informative feedback, they develop thoughts or hypotheses about the types of behavior most likely to succeed. These hypotheses then serve as guides for future actions” (p.3). Bandura suggests that people’s behaviors are learned either deliberately or inadvertently through example. Influencers lead by example, recommending or reinforcing products that they like through advertorials. Therefore, viewers watching these examples may be more likely to adopt those behaviors exhibited by the influencer. Brand marketers use this strategy in hopes that consumers will follow influencers’ behavior as “monkeys see monkeys do.” Bandura, A. (1971). Social Learning Theory. General Learning Corporation.
Hence, being an effective influencer is only for a chosen few. While everyone can influence others given the knowledge and platform, not anyone can influence others for the better. Part of the complexities and knee-jerk reactions people get when they hear the word “influencer” comes from the reality that, at most times, influence is equal to popularity, and those who give and receive clout are worthy of the title.
This paper asserts quite the opposite– popularity is not an influence. The redefinition of influence shall always imply the need for influencers to empower change, and empowerment focuses on developing the common good in all scales and fields of influence.
This cornerstone of influence being an integral part of leadership and community-building as catalysts and producers of change is why institutions like Influencers Academy (2021) are present. As the world’s first university program for influencers (Teivainen, 2021), Influencers Academy allows anyone to be part of the chosen few that contribute meaningful influence in their fields. By building and maximizing their skills and abilities, students innovate new ideas and concepts that enable them to use their expertise and credibility to enforce desirable outcomes for their audiences. It can be a training ground for influencers to be a person for others as they influence those around them, holding that moral responsibility to only advance change using the correct information and the right platform. Such programs exist to become the global standard for becoming an effective influencer.
Our Team have conducted a session in the Music & Media Festival 2022 at Tampere. To share about money in TikTok and discuss how beneficial it is in running a business. Our Team have created a tool which you can find your own niche. This tool helps both people who are already doing social media activities and for those who are planning to enter the industry. “Can-fuse” is a tool which you can combine all your interests and can come up with your own niche. This is one way of testing of being an influencer is really for all or for only chosen few.
Indeed, being a person of influence necessitates great power, and with great power comes great moral responsibility. Hence, they are only for the chosen few with the skills and capabilities to use their knowledge and expertise to produce authentic, effective influence. It should be a great challenge for anyone with a platform to use theirs wisely. Successful and competent influencers differentiate themselves from others by being a benchmark on how influence can generate long-lasting advancement in society. One must know what it takes to be part of the particular chosen few, and they can take the first step now.
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