Social Media Influencers Could Be Losing Their Influence

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( — September 12, 2019) — A series of scandals and sheer proliferation on social media could be rapidly turning public attitude against influencers, the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported. 

Influencers are users on social media platforms with significant followings that can pitch products to their audience. Social media influencers are celebrities in their own space with large sway over what their followers think. As a result, influencers have become important advertising channels in digital marketing strategies

Not so long ago, social media influencers commanded popular favour and were largely considered benign. But a number of recent controversies involving a several prominent influencers have changed that positive opinion. Marketers, in particular, may need to exercise caution when hiring influencers. 

Scandals Have Tarnished the Influencer Community 

The recent years have seen a number of scandals involving social media influencers. One travel Instagrammer caught online ire last year for posting a racially insensitive caption to a photograph taken in Bali. Logan Paul, one of the biggest YouTube stars ever, was instantly rebuked after posting a picture of a man who had committed suicide. 

Perhaps the biggest influencer scandal in recent times involves the ill-fated Fyre Festival, a massively marketed music even that turned out be nothing like what was shown in the digital adverts. Popular social media stars like Kendall Jenner had their squeaky clean reputations irreversibly damaged by such scandals. 

The many controversies have made the shine on influencers wear off. No more are influencers seen as largely a harmless way to advertise on platforms like Instagram. 

The Rising Number of Influencers are Dampening Attitudes 

On top of the scandals, influencers are all over the social media world. There’s more in supply than in demand. As a result, influencers are now viewed in the same light as pop-up ads, which is to say, undesirably. 

As influencers lose their appeal, digital marketers are concerned. Influencer marketing is still an important aspect of digital advertising. However, advertisers have become more cautious and scrutinizing of who they hire to promote their products. 

Regulations are on the Way

Because of scandals like the Fyre Festival, regulators are now looking to reign in how influencers relay products to their customers. Regulations covering influencers are already in effect in Europe. In the UK, for example, influencers must disclose any products they feature that they have been paid for. 

Professional advertisers, such as this Toronto marketing firm, are mindful of such regulations when designing influencer campaigns. It’s not impossible that in the future advertisers would have to abide by specific rules targeting influencer marketing. 

Is Influencer Marketing on the Way Out?

While the public isn’t as enthusiastic about influencers as they used to be, this type of advertising is not showing signs of slowing down. Influencers remain relevant to online advertising, but not as liberally as before. 

Advertisers are now turning to so-called nano-influencers to reach highly specific influencers. Nano-influencers are not highly popular. Rather, these influencers have a strong following among small communities.  What they lack in size, they amass in trust. Nano-influencers are the go-to ad channel for niche advertisers. 

Likewise, rather than paying big bucks for huge social media stars, influencer marketing is shifting towards a model based on community trust. In the future, influencing will largely be delegated for smaller but more concentrated audiences that advertisers can reach out to.