It’s 2020 and influencers have taken over the world. Imagine having the power to change the
world with a simple tweet, an Instagram post, or a story. Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?
Like something straight out of a sci-fi movie? It is more factual than fiction.
The existence of influencers
Influencers have been determining our opinions and thoughts since as early as the 18th century.
Starting with the Queen declaring her favorite potter, giving rise to the world’s first luxury brand; moving on to Coca-cola using fictional characters like Santa Claus to attract customers and help
them be cheery in an unhappy time.
Next were celebrity endorsements as fans flocked to buy products advertised by their favourite celebrities. However, it lost traction due to a lack of relatability felt as people could not keep up with their lavish lifestyles.
This opened the door to what we now call, Social Media Influencers, who heavily use social media platforms to broadcast their ‘’regular’’ lives and gain millions of trustworthy followers by posting
relatable content and constantly engaging with their followers.
But the main question arises- how have these influencers constantly been successful at shaping the thoughts and opinions of people all around the world? What may seem simple to the eye is very complex.
The Rise of Influencers on Social Media
The importance of social media is currently at its peak right now. Having at least 3.5 billion
users, social media is the number one medium of communication, surpassing television,
radio, and telephones.
With billions of people on the platform, it is bound that there will be a few leaders and many followers. Information, verified or false, can be easily transferred and edited just by a click.
Influencers have learnt the superpower of using the power of speedy media to generate a following for themselves and use it to their benefit.
Since these platforms allow influencers to interact and create social connections like never before, it
gives them a certain power over the usual mainstream media channels.
Social Media Influencers v/s Traditional Media Channels
Outdated media channels such as televisions, radios, and telephones are currently declining
as digital marketing climbs its way to the top, specifically influencer marketing.
Influencer shares their passions via engaging content and maintains close interactions with their
Not only do they post content regularly, but they also post content that is real, authentic, and relatable which is like a fresh breathe of air in space where mainstream media was the monopoly.
Influencers have the most valuable asset of all: their followers’ trust. Statistics say that 70% of teens trust the influencers they follow rather than traditional celebrities.
Moreover, approximately 92% of consumers would rather take recommendations from friends, families, and influencers.
Influencers portray themselves as your best friend, always letting you know what is going on in their lives and share their interests with you.
So yes, trust plays a big role in giving influencers the power to shape our choices.
How our daily choices are affected?
There is no doubt that influencers can play around with our thoughts but how do they affect
our daily decision-making? How do they influence our choices?
For example, you start the day off by drinking your highly caffeinated coffee and always have been for years. However, one day your favorite influencer posts that they drink tea every morning with a list of benefits of drinking tea, true or false.
They also share the link of their favourite tea so that you can buy it too. All of this information, coming directly from the person you greatly trust will without a doubt encourage you to switch your habits. This is just a simple example. The situation keeps changing.
What else can they determine? It could either be a political campaign or the way you view your body. It could be the clothes you wear or the shows you watch. Where you want to travel next or even which restaurant you want to go to today.
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Around all the little choices that we make in our day to day lives are in some way or the other influenced by the people we view on social media. Our minds process so much of their content that we too, adapt their thought process and follow what they do.
Influencers lead the pack and set trends and we as individuals do not want to be left behind. Maybe it is a sense of peer pressure? Or it is the herd mentality? Maybe it is because of the trust
they have built?
It is not all good
While having a best friend that recommends you the best products and services sounds fun and convenient, it is not always in the best of your interest.
With the positives of most things, there are also negatives. Social media and the current wave of influencers are also causing adverse effects, leading to negative thought processes among their followers.
Firstly, body image issues have been growing at an alarming rate as people compare their bodies to the seemingly ‘’perfect’’ influencers they follow.
A survey concluded that 87% of women and 65% of men compare their bodies to the images they see online.
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And when our favorite influencer advertises weight loss pills or detox teas (which never usually work), we are forced to believe that our bodies are not beautiful the way they are.
We are forced to conform to the beauty standards set by these influencers. There has been a hike in the percentage of people who would undergo plastic surgery by being influenced by social
media- a whopping 48.5%.
Cosmetic surgery companies and beauty cosmetic companies have used influencers to convince people all over the world that they are not good enough as they are and that has taken a serious toll on the mental health of all.
Secondly, influencers have made us obsessed with our self-image. What used to be a place for authenticity and relatability, has now turned into a place full of photoshop and ‘‘faking it till
you make it’’.
They make us believe that their lives are perfect and we the ‘’common people’ can achieve what they have if we act just like them.
We feel like failures because we cannot afford the branded clothes they wear cannot go on extravagant impromptu vacations as they do.
They make us feel like lesser versions of ourselves as we continue to live vicariously
through them. So yes, they can affect our thoughts negatively too.
To conclude this article, influencers can shape our thoughts positively and negatively. They can be the best friends and role models we all need but they can also be the focal point of our insecurity and low self-esteem.
Brands are currently realising the unenthusiasm circling influencers and are shifting their methods as times change.
The typical model is currently facing backlash because of its insincerity and people are going back to the roots of influencer marketing- not fancy cars, branded clothes, or luxurious vacations but trust, authenticity, and relatability.
The focus will be back on the community now, the people who make the brand what it is.