Social Media Influencers
WHAT THEY DO AND ARE THEY THE GAMECHANGER OF BRANDING?
That teeth-grinding hissing noise you hear when someone tells you something corny or cheesy is the same sound one makes when they cringe after hearing the term ‘influencer’. The word now spews all over the Internet and even on billboard ads thanks to word-frenzy millennials. Fun fact: the term ‘influencer’ didn’t exist until few years ago when Cambridge Dictionary decided to add it on their website and defined it as ‘someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave through their social media’.
So, it pretty much made sense on why the term appeared only recently because despite having MySpace and Friendster back then, there were no influencers. The only way you’re getting famous is by appearing on reality tv shows like The Hills or Jersey Shore where you have Lauren Conrad being the sweet ‘it’ girl and Snookie drenched in hair gel and sun tan lotion. Being an ‘influencer’ was never part of their goal but little did they know, they pretty much were. The same way some are now.
Farhanah Firdaus or more famously known as ‘Faa Firds’ on social media denied ever wanting to be an influencer. “I never wanted to be an influencer but instead I wanted to be a teacher!” she said with sparkle in her eyes and me surprised. “I was a substitute teacher in fact before I started my foundation and I taught everything from BM to Math to even Pendidikan Agama! It was really fun and I loved every minute of it.” “It wasn’t until I was doing my degree in Mass Communications that followers started to increase, and people were suddenly interested in what I do. So honestly, it just sort of happened and here I am now.” She further explained, “You don’t just wake up one day and decided to be an influencer. I feel like its more of the people’s choice, like you’re the “chosen one” to be the person that everyone follows and like.” If you’re wondering how to distinct one as an ‘influencer’, Faa explains how she still cringes till this day when being called one. “Brands started calling me up to promote stuffs and they would begin the conversation by saying I’m an influencer, which still makes me cringe because it just doesn’t feel right! I would much prefer to be called ‘YouTuber’ or ‘blogger’”.
Every job out there comes with a job description and salary which makes it a job in the first place. Another fun fact: Being an influencer IS a job. Not many are fond with the idea of it being a job because all they do is posting aesthetically nice photos and do reviews, what’s so hard about that? Why would it be a job when you’re doing stuff everyone can do? Well social media influencer, Naddy Rahman, begs to differ because it really is a full-time job.“It’s not easy or fun as people think because it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. People take advantage of you because you’re ‘just an influencer’, not a celebrity. So like why pay us or why promote us.” If the day in the life of an influencer not that pretty, then why are some envying to be one? “We ‘influencers have other things to do as well! It is completely false if one thinks all we do is sit and take pretty pictures. It’s part of it, but we ‘influencers’ are normal human beings with lives too.” She sat up front from slouching comfortably to prove an important point. “Some of us do it as a part time job while having a full-time one. For me, I do when I have the time. I was studying Law and currently in the midst of getting my license so being an influencer is just something on the side that I also can do. It’s always more than just giving reviews and posting selfies.”
While the social media influencer market grows bigger by the second like mushrooms on a rainy day, marketing agencies are not slowing down either. Instead, it’s now a race against PR companies that represent celebrities as brands want more engaging followers. Brands like MCM and H&M are using social media influencers to promote their latest fashion campaigns on both offline and online media. Are celebrities slowly losing their endorsements to 20-year old influencers?
Well Gushcloud thinks so. Asia’s number one influencer marketing company specializes in what happens to be the gamechanger of branding, according to business and network director, Jane Chia. “The reason why we chose to work with social media influencers is because they are unique advertising platforms. The way they carry brand message is different and in their own creative way so it’s not your traditional ‘hey, buy this iphone’ way of promo. But instead, they tell you why they like it through their personal experience with their own followers therefore it penetrates the market more effectively.”
She added, “these people create legitimacy through their status as an influencer. When a product is being talked about by someone you follow, especially someone who’s not a celebrity, this instils confidence in people.”
Like Mariah Carey’s lip synching, not all are real. Threats come in forms of fake followers and bratty social media influencers. With 50 million Instagram users, how do you tell apart those that has genuine followers? Jane reveals that Gushcloud calculates KPI and applies mathematical formulas to know if one’s profile is legit enough for brands to use to promote. “This is called the engagement rate. This varies from categories for example, one who’s into beauty will have a much higher percentage of engagement rate to achieve compared to one who’s reviewing tech. This is the data that brands would want to know because it’s also a form of legitimacy.” Jane revealed that sometimes certain influencers may have demanding or unreasonable requests and are unwilling to compromise because they believe in the value of their content. She emphasizes again that not all influencers are like that and that most of them are very easy-going and nice to work with.
Social media influencers personalize branding in the digital age. Although celebrities like Rihanna and The Weeknd are still dominating endorsement deals, brands are now also using influencers like the Queen of Snapchat, Kylie Jenner and Instagram model, Golden Barbie a.k.a Jasmine Sanders as cover faces. The evolution of branding now lies in the rising of individuals whom can engage directly with consumers. Brands are now monitoring closely on an influencer’s comment section and insta stories. One bad review or comment will shred a brand to pieces. The word ‘viral’ and ‘trending’ could be a PR’s nightmare or dream come true. Either way, social media influencers have paved the way for brands to market and advertise creatively and to always stay above water.
Bio: With his signature ‘Hey, bitch’ greeting, Philippine-born Bretman Rock resides in the land of tropical beaches, Hawaii with over 10 million followers on Instagram and close to 4 million subscribers on YouTube. Serving you slaying makeup looks every week and hilarious challenges alongside also famous sister, Princess Mae, Bretman breaks boundaries with his fearless acts and truthful comments to haters.
Bio: Her social media name speaks for itself when 27-year old Jasmine Sanders was recognized for looking like a Barbie doll, with striking blue eyes and golden locks. This German-born influencer turn model have shot for Bvlgari, MCM, Smashbox Cosmetics, Teen Vogue.
Bio: Sonya has appeared in many print and TV commercials over the years of being a model and actress, but her name caught social media intention when she became mama of twins. She slams the post-baby body stereotypes by looking glamorous and hot while taking care of two boys and a husband. Besides from getting fit, Sonya struts her figure by wearing bikinis and crop tops with skinny jeans and heels while pushing the baby stroller at the mall.
Bio: She was one of the earliest adopter of the fashion blog movement and now her blog/website, Song of Style received over 2 million page views per month. Aimee has also successfully expanded her revenue streams through her small jewellery and apparel brands. Featured in high profile publications such as New York Times, she has also collaborated with a few major brands like True Religion and Levi’s.