Influential people have influence (over others) – it has always been so and it will continue to be. In recent years, big data and algorithms have been applied to social networks in an attempt to identify the ripple effect that occurs when someone of influence says something positive or negative, or uses a certain product etc. Influencing these influential people remains the holy grail of marketing as people mimic (often subconsciously) the actions of people they look up to and respect.
But it’s all got a bit out of hand. Brands are overlooking the quality of the connections and only focussing on the quantity of the connections – which can only end in tears. Brands are fawning over self proclaimed “influencers” because they have tens of thousands of followers on social media, without taking a long, hard look at HOW they gained their following. Follow bots and pods proliferate and as fast as the networks attempt to shut down the practise of “buying followers and likes”, enterprising people find a way of circumventing their controls, leading to something that Tom Fishburne illustrates in his excellent cartoon about Influencer Fatigue (we love Tom’s cartoons!).
The beauty of this all from the perspective of the influencer is that they are seldom (if ever) called upon to substantiate their ability to “have an influence” over their audience because – well, as John Wanamaker said all those years ago “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half” – which means that the brands themselves really have no idea if what they are doing is effective at all – but since everyone else is doing it (and they don’t know either), they have to throw money at “influencers” just in case that’s the half that works
And then of course we have the new wave of FAKE INFLUENCERS – these are completely fictitious “people” that have been engineered by brands and are passed off as “real people” for the ultimate form of manipulation – you might even be being influenced by one of them today without realising it!
Met any influencers lately?
Please contribute your own additions to our dictionary of Alternative definitions (dAd) in the comments below so we can all have a bit of a chuckle!