The Age of the influencer is over. The time of the genuinfluencer has come.

by Maje Pérez-Ramos

Just a few days ago, Bella Hadid posted a very emotional IG post about the challenges she regularly faces regarding her mental health. A little out of nowhere, she wrote two powerful sentences which, obviously, to her are key to the topic: “Un poco sin venir a cuento, escribía en su post dos poderosas frases que, evidentemente, para ella están en el meollo de la cuestión: “Social media is not real. For anyone struggling , please remember that.”

Is the eternal mirage of social media, from which no one is able to scape. No matter how good-looking, rich or famous you are, some content will hit you wherever it hurts you the most. We all admit that, most of the times, we only post edited, filtered versions of our lives, we all know that the rest of the world does it too, yet a part of us still wants to believe that what other posts is the actual, whole truth, that the grass really is greener at the other side of the fence.

This negative impact on the live of followers and influencers alike is just one of the reasons leading to the collapse of the traditional influencer profile, a phenomenon known as influencer fatigue: stagnation of creativity in terms of content, bad practices such as building ghost audiences to attract the attention of brands, or greedily accepting all kinds of “collaborations” with companies, sometimes light years away from the interests of their followers. All this factors have led to an increasing number of social media users who don’t trust and are fed of the classic influencers.

This does not necessarily mean that influencers’ days are numbered, but rather that there is a shift in the trend. According to the Vogue Business article, Meet the “genuinfluencers” who don’t want to sell you anything, written by Kati Chitrakorn, “while luxury brands are investing more in micro influencers (up 14 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to digital marketing firm Lefty), many have reduced their partnerships with macro and top influencers”.

The genuinfluencer that gives the article its title is a new player in the system, “creators who generate followers but who (…) are more interested in sharing advice, talking about their passions and spreading unbiased information, rather than promoting the sale of a new product or collection. They tend to be known for the high quality of their content, rather than their follower count, says Cassandra Napoli, senior strategist at WGSN Insight.” It’s therefore about presenting content that is more honest, transparent and focused on audience’s interest, rather than positioning products and services for brands. A return, if you will, to the innocent origins of the figure of the influencer, more or less anonymous people who shared their passions on the internet with no other motivation but the enjoyment they got from it.

“The landscape has totally changed in terms of who is considered a person of influence and how we define the term,” said Hilary Williams Dunlap, senior vice president of talent at Digital Brand Architects (DBA) for Vogue Business. The key attributes of the influencer now,” the article continues, “are a unique point of view, conversion and community. Brands are looking at how interactive and tightly-knit the following is and how influential the creator is within their community.”

The crises of all kinds that have shaken the world in recent times have been a catalyst for this shift in social platforms. To seduce generations Y and Z, companies have had to refine their strategy: environmental issues, gender inequalities, minority rights, etc. can no longer be ignored. It is impossible, of course, to deny the existence of a pandemic that has dramatically disrupted our consumer habits. The way to get younger consumers is to present themselves as social agents of change. Therefore, those brands that invest so much in presenting themselves as responsible, honest and with values, will not work with that old-fashioned type of influencer whose feed remains oblivious to the turbulence and in which the protagonist seems to lead a life of perfect happiness, full of luxury and long-haul trips that one does not quite know how he or she can afford. Transparency, vulnerability, and a reasonably sincere willingness to improve the lives of the audience; these are the values that consumers (and the smartest companies) are now looking for in their influencers. Let’s rejoice that the hypocritical, self-serving approach to social media is going out of fashion and let’s hope Bella Hadid’s example catches on.

Image: @chrisellelim

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