It’s no secret that social media platforms are now an integral component of digital marketing. This is especially true for a platform such as Instagram that relies on visual content to put messages across. The power of social media and the reach it provides to users around the world has given rise to what we now know as an influencer economy that revolves around influencer marketing.
A few years ago, content creators on social media who amassed large followings soon realized their potential to earn money through their followers. Brands all over the world – big and small alike – began approaching these creators to advertise their products and encourage their millions of followers to purchase them. This led to the rise of influencer marketing, a model that allows for content creators to influence their fans and followers to follow a certain type of lifestyle and buy products that compliment it.
With the growing popularity of TikTok and Instagram Reels, influencers can now reach out to scores of people around the world and prompt them to follow the latest trends in no time. From brewing coffee in exciting new ways to using filters that create silhouettes against a starry backdrop, these trends can capture the imagination of tens of millions of people every day.
This has led young people to believe that becoming an influencer and simply posting beautiful photos and following trends online can help them make some quick and easy money. While this belief was quite popular and well-founded until about 2 years ago, it’s far from the truth now. Instagram and other similar platforms are now saturated with content creators wishing to profit off their social media presence.
Over the past year, several advertising companies have noticed that social media users are not as keen on purchasing products promoted by influencers as they were in 2019 and earlier. This could be because the world economy took a hit last year and many people across the globe just don’t have enough money to splurge on apparel, accessories, and other products influencers promote enthusiastically every day. Besides, brands too have been facing huge losses and don’t have the kind of advertising budget they did before things went south.
Another reason for the steady decline of influencer marketing over the past year is that people are simply bored of following influencers. Now, this may seem to be a simplistic explanation but it’s true all the same. In the past year, teenagers have been forced to stay indoors and spend more time on social media, leading to overconsumption. The number of influencers active today has grown to the point where even people with a couple of thousand followers are actively promoting products and services.
No one logs onto a social media platform just to view ads so it’s easy to see why the strategy of using influencers and micro-influencers to sell products has backfired on many reputed brands. Reliable studies have shown that over half of the millennials that use social media have stopped trusting influencers (as published by Millennial Shopper Survey, 2017). Gen Z no longer believes that an influencer who claims to have ‘flawless skin’ and ‘lustrous hair’ has achieved the same with the help of the beauty brand they’re promoting. Besides, why should they? These are nothing more than ordinary endorsements disguised as reports of authentic experiences from social media stars beloved by millions.
However, bear in mind that it’s not all bad when it comes to influencer marketing in 2021. Top-tier social media darlings such as Kylie Jenner continue to make their millions thanks to influencer marketing alongside scores of macro-influencers. It’s micro-influencers that are bearing the brunt of the shrinking influencer economy. Having said that, we might as well acknowledge that influencers (both macro and micro) who can produce quality content and engage audiences continue to find success via marketing on social media.
In other words, you can still consider hiring an influencer to promote your product or service on social media and make the most out of your investment, provided you do your research. Look for an influencer that can create great ads alongside entertaining content that keeps their followers interested. Also, opt for an influencer who regularly promotes products similar to yours as they’ll likely have a wealth of ideas on hand on how they can promote your products best.