Why Have Social Media "Influencers" Become So Powerful?

James Logie

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In the modern online world, there has become a growing segment of people who have rabid fan bases eager to jump on board with whatever they promote.

They call them “influencers” and they have become a powerful force in the world of business and advertising.

You may have become sick of hearing about influencers, so why did they become so important and take over social media?

What Is An Influencer?

Influencers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and anything else you can think of. They are people who have built up a large social media following and have developed a group of very loyal fans — some may even call them “tribes”.

They have been able to do this because their fanbase has grown to know, like, and trust them. Once this has been established, it becomes very easy to sell and promote to this audience because of how loyal they’ve become.

Influencers can exist on many social media platforms.

Some of the most notable exist on Instagram and YouTube, but they still can be found on Snap Chat, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, blogs, and podcasts.

Influencers exist for every niche you can think about including beauty, fashion, gaming, fitness, nutrition, home design, pets, technology, and pretty much any hobby you can think of.

There is nothing too niche that doesn’t involve influencers and there are even people with millions of followers who sell succulents which are small, thicker plants.

Everyone knows of the Kardashians' dominance of social media and one sponsored post by them can launch a company into the stratosphere.

You also have other big celebrity names like Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Beyonce, and the Rock.

But what about people who aren't household names and have built careers off being influencers?

This is happening all the time on YouTube where influencers like PewDiePie, Casey Neistat, Marques Brownlee, Jake Paul, Mr. Beast, and Dude Perfect have amassed millions of followers — and millions of dollars.

The fact is, more people are watching YouTube channels than are watching cable TV, and the number one influencer on YouTube last year was an 8-year-old kid.

That’s right, “Ryan ToysReview” has 18 million subscribers and made more than $22 million.

That’s how powerful these platforms have become.

But you don’t even need millions of followers to be an effective influencer. Having 50–100,000 followers whether it's on Instagram or YouTube makes you a valuable target for advertising.

Even an influencer with 10,000 followers can have a huge impact if they have a very engaged audience. It all comes down to the relationship they've built with their audience.

Why Have Influencers Become So Powerful?

The internet has allowed everyone to find a group of people that love the same things they do whether it be video games, comics, succulent plants, quilting, etc. And within each topic are various subtopics that have a giant fan base.

The first thing companies do is to find out where their target audience likes to hang out online. Are they more likely to be consuming YouTube videos? Scrolling through Instagram? Listening to Podcasts?

This all depends on what the business is; with beauty or fashion, this is a very visual medium and their audience is most likely on Instagram. The secret is finding out where they engage, and then they know which platform to target.

Record companies are now targeting TikTok influencers to get new artist's songs heard by millions of people.

If you’re involved in tech, your audience is probably watching tech reviews on YouTube or reading about them on tech blogs.

An older demographic probably won't be found on Snap Chat, so it might make sense to not approach anyone on that platform.

For a smaller business, it’s probably not the best idea to approach a giant influencer that has millions of followers. They are getting bombarded with offers all day long and tend to work with giant brands — or are promoting their own products at this point.

But now even smaller influencers are still making six figures. The growth of social media has made it so that anyone with a decent phone can now become their own brand and business.

There are people you've never heard of that are millionaires and have so much power with brands and companies. My nieces and nephews don't watch regular TV anymore—just YouTube videos.

Some of these people on YouTube have become celebrities to them the way TV and movie stars were for me. A regular YouTube channel can blow up overnight, making the owner an online celebrity and a millionaire.

Final Thoughts

It’s an interesting time for advertising, as there are so many options to get in front of people's eyes. It's also really tough for companies to stand out, and they're doing everything they can to get our attention.

Traditionally, you would just have print and TV ads, but now there is so much more vying for our attention. Old forms of promoting a business may not be as effective as so many platforms have emerged. Companies have to scramble to keep up.

For a company with a physical product, having it featured in an Instagram post can get them a great amount of exposure, and in a very quick time.

This is way quicker than all the time it takes to film, produce, edit, and launch a commercial on TV.

Sponsoring a podcast is a way companies now target a very engaged audience. Even just having someone review your product on video will give awareness to a business that wouldn’t have been previously possible.

Even small-time influencers are becoming celebrities in their own right. They partner with up-and-coming businesses and if one of them takes off—they both get to reap the rewards.

Careers and success like this use to take years--now it can take just a few minutes.

Things have changed quite a bit from the days of radio, print, and TV ads.

Photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.

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