The word influencer only came into common use recently however it may be its time is up already. There are articles aplenty drawing scorn for the influencer community, from the woman who expected a pair of wedding photographers to give up their services for ‘exposure’ to a ‘measly 55,000 followers’, to the couple who sent an itinerary of their ‘surprise’ proposal to potential sponsors.
In the past, brands have been desperate for the kind of engagement that individuals were getting on social media and it is them utilizing influencers that made it such a popular career choice. However, instead of looking outwards, brands are now creating their own similar content and you can certainly see a change in approach when it comes to profiles on Twitter and Instagram. Playful jibes between fast food stores have been retweeted millions of times, due to the human approach that is perceived and the consequent familiarity between consumer and company. This new tone of voice has also meant that 'down-to-earth' brands like Innocent excel online, but it spells trouble for those who in the past made money from their personal brand.
Recently, as the tide changes, it’s come to light that companies are actually making money by separating themselves from the people they once showered with free samples. Glow Dreaming, a company selling high-end night lights, claim they saw a 10-15% profit increase after dropping influencers from their marketing plan. This, they claim, stemmed from the fact that legitimate praise from real customers had in the past become worthless, as influencer content meant “they started thinking everything we did was paid for”.
More recently, CVT Soft Serve, a popular ice cream truck gained more publicity than they ever could have gained through influencers, after the owner, sick of being asked for free ice cream, put up a sign stating that anyone claiming to be an influencer would have to pay double.
The comments that accompanied the press surrounding CVT cemented the idea that people are sick of influencers… however is it fair to tar all with the same brush?
Whilst a recent study found that 47% of consumers in EMEA countries are “fatigued by repetitive influencers”, this appears to mainly be an issue with the perfection that comes with most accounts. Free gifts and the use of filters present an unattainable life as normal, something the younger generations are rejecting. The search for likes has been linked to bad mental health in young people, spurring a rebellion that has meant fast-rising Instagram stars now feature bad hair days, facemask selfies and goofy pictures on their feeds.
15-year-old Claire told The Atlantic that “Avocado toast and posts on the beach [are] so generic and played out at this point. You can photoshop any girl into that background and it will be the same post, it’s not cool anymore to be manufactured.”
It is the people who reject this manufactured look that will survive these changing tides, something both businesses and influencers need to take into account.