A Rising Influence

If you’re a millennial, chances are, social media is your middle name. Much of my Instagram feed these days is congested with posts promoting detox tea, hair vitamins, and teeth whitening trays. The hashtag #ad on Instagram has over three million posts and counting, tagged in photos promoting everything from Pace Chunky Salsa to makeup and skincare brands. The same is true on any of my other social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat (just to name a few). I am constantly coming across more and more advertisements and sponsored posts by celebrities. However, not all of these posts come from actors and musicians, but normal, everyday people like you and me.

These “normal” people are referred to as social media influencers and their presence online is growing rapidly. You might have heard about people who have quit their full time jobs and now travel the world making their living, but how do they do it? As stated in Justin Poore’s video “The Power of Influencer Marketing,” bloggers and other social media personalities partner with brands to create sponsored content” and get paid a good amount for doing so.

Celebrities have long been endorsing brands. These partnerships facilitate the idea that if you spot your favorite actor or actress using a certain line of shampoo, you will be more inclined to try that brand. Another example of this is actor and entertainer Jamie Foxx representing Verizon in their ads. Just like the shampoo brand, the idea is that the audience will see Jamie Foxx boosting Verizon’s claims and become interested in what Verizon has to offer.

This psychology applies the same way to social media influencers. People who broadcast interesting and unique content become known for their creativity. Over time, they gain a following that looks to them for product reviews and advice. Brands can then benefit greatly by partnering with these “normal” people who can represent their company in a more appealing way for their intended audience.

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Image Source: Brian Solis from Flickr

After seeing a sponsored Instagram post by Jay Alvarrez, a social media influencer, content creator, and travel vlogger, I was immediately drawn in. The post was featuring Lokai, a brand that sells bracelets to advocate for a well balanced state of mind and that donates a percentage of the proceeds to charity. I went right on their website and ordered one. The message, which came from someone I cared to follow, stuck with me. Social media influencers have a truly unique reach to their audience that standard advertisements do not.

Research done by Katherine Karp, a Senior Research Analyst for Twitter, highlights this new phenomenon. She reported that “nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer.” Much of this new concept stems from the growing presence of millennials on social media. This research concluded that this younger generation is increasingly interested in “handheld names,” or those “normal” people who experienced a rise to fame through social media platforms like Twitter, Vine, and Instagram. Additionally, Karp found that sponsored posts that included both a brand and an influencer attracted double the amount of consumers with intent to purchase as opposed to an advertisement featuring just the brand. These influencers are proving to be a huge asset for sales.

Social media offers ordinary people the opportunity to broadcast themselves into a vast community which has opened doors to new business ventures, marketing strategies, and simply the way in which we interact with each other. So, with this rise of social media influencers, the ways in which we consume goods and services have and will continue to change.

Feature Image Source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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