Goodbye influencers... hello user-generated content?
Reflecting on social media’s trajectory, George Gossland of Favoured says the era of ‘influencers’ is over. But does this mean more opportunity for regular users to gain exposure?
With Instagram and TikTok so saturated, what is separating influencers from regular users, really? / TheRegisti via Unsplash
A few years ago, a study found out what children want to be when they grow up. Rather than ‘I want to be a doctor’ or ‘I want to be an astronaut,’ the most common response was ‘I want to be a YouTuber.’ Kids want to be famous on social media.
Over the years, social media has seeped into our everyday lives. You can now make more money from reading a script to your phone for 10 minutes than what a doctor makes in a year. This is because most influencer rates start from between $100 and $10,000 per post, according to influencer agency reports. Agencies have embraced this social phenomenon and implemented authentic influencer content into their advertisements.
The influencer as we know it
It’s the ideal job; all the tools you need are at your disposal. If it’s that easy, then no wonder everyone wants to be an influencer. The tools were provided at the right time for gen Z and late millennial kids, allowing users from any corner of the world to become stars of social media.
In 2022, is the term ‘influencer’ now outdated? Social media gurus suggest that the term should be simply ‘content creator,’ opening an opportunity for more diversity across social platforms. TikTok has made this possible with its inclusive approach, whereas Instagram is very specific about its influencers. Heavy filters, high-quality photography and edited bodies promote a false representation of how influencers ‘should’ look.
It’s important for marketing agencies to understand the difference between these platforms and be able to adapt. Although, with Instagram trying every day to be more like TikTok, perhaps that line is becoming less divisive.
Short-form video content is king
Between the years of 2016 and 2020, we saw the fall of Vine, but the rise of YouTube vloggers. 2020 arrived with a pandemic spanning the globe, forcing us all into our homes with no ‘in-person’ interaction. It’s safe to say the majority of us headed to social platforms to feel connected.
With the lack of a thriving social life, we ultimately all became more laid back and relaxed, relying on taking pictures and even creating our own user-generated content (UGC). Many people saw this as an opportunity to become full-time creators – and with the level of requirement to be an ‘influencer’ being a lot more relaxed than normal, it wasn’t hard.
But this opened a whole new host of problems in the world of influencers. Emma Chamberlain said it best: “Because everyone is trying to be an influencer, the industry has become less exclusive and, in turn, less credible. But was it ever credible to begin with?”
With everybody obsessed with becoming an influencer, the influencer market is becoming too saturated. This may have somewhat resulted in redefining the term ‘influencer’ to ‘content creator’ – the key difference being the relationships they have with brands.
Social media has not only generated a whole new generation of content creators, but created avenues for new business. Online brands need people to (authentically) market the products or services they’re offering, and a strong content creator can even be more recognizable than a logo. A brand today can’t fully strive or thrive without representation and voices from diverse and ‘ordinary’ creators – and this is where the content creators rise.
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All you need to do is hire a content creator who knows how to use TikTok and Instagram and cut a deal with them (20-30 TikToks a month at a fair rate). The creator can then come to understand the brand, who you are and what your goals are. If you want to become a content creator for your brand, you can. The tools are at your disposal. It’s just down to you to nail down who you are, what you believe in and how you come across.
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