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Post No.: 0738influencers


Fluffystealthkitten says:


Marketing companies nowadays routinely employ popular influencers to try to get messages or videos trending on social media like on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok or whichever platforms are most currently fashionable and relevant for the target market. Some influencers may wish to call themselves something else but they’re people with large social media followings who have the aim of persuading people to buy or do something.


The law (in the UK at least) states that influencers must explicitly and unambiguously declare if what they’re promoting is a paid-for advert, a freebie or being sponsored, hence the #AD, #GIFT and #SPON hashtags on posts. So all adverts or paid promotions, whether in cash or in-kind, must be clearly labelled as such, plus follow other advertising standards, including no false advertising. With competitions, there must be a way to prove that the winners have been impartially and fairly selected.


Before these specific claws were introduced or clarified, these marketing messages were made to look totally like organic testimonials from independent content creators who just happened to wish to share their love for particular products with their followers. Trying to get one’s products and marketing messages trending by hiring people to talk about and promote them in glowing terms in this way is akin to publishers hiring people to buy their own books to artificially get them ranking high in the bestsellers lists. It attempts to exploit the pattern that what’s popular tends to become even more popular. It’s like buying fake reviews, follows or backlinks will get ranking algorithms to promote what appears popular and in turn attract real potential customers who may take notice and be interested in checking it out. Exposure or getting something simply noticed is half the battle to achieving sales.


People are also more willing to trust a claim or endorsement from someone who’s independent from whom or what they’re endorsing. But the ‘third-party technique’ is about using parties who appear independent to give testimonies or information – but who actually have a stake in the outcome too. This kind of artifice can bring something into the limelight that otherwise would be buried in obscurity amongst the billions of other things vying for our attention.


Being paid in any way (e.g. via a commission per sale one generates) to promote a brand or product conflicts with providing any impartiality. Transparently declaring one’s financial interests, and promoting something without making a purchase or subscription seem obligatory, is however a basic source of income for many content creators nowadays, and this is totally fair enough. It’s when some influencers push the bounds of surreptitiousness and/or pressure. Indeed, despite these influencer advertising laws, many social media influencers still flout them. Sometimes they deliberately attempt to obscure the fact their posts, photos or videos are paid-for adverts, based on free gifts or being sponsored.


Some influencers don’t want to appear like a ‘sell out’ in front of their followers; even though behind them, many deliberately ask businesses for freebies in return for promoting their products!


Even engagements, marriages and honeymoons can be used as marketing events, with companies basically outlining what influencers are supposed to do, what sort of posts to publish and even what emotions they should express during this time!


Influencers will often use stories instead of single posts when it comes to adverts because the former tend to be trusted as more authentic and not like commercial advertisements. Many influencers have never even tried the products or financial tips they push onto their followers, despite the impression they try to give i.e. they lie! Not all influencers are like this but enough are highly willing puppets for brands and their agents, and they don’t really think or care about how they’re exploiting their own fan bases – they’ll just do whatever makes them some money. Some influencers even peddle counterfeit goods and purchase fake followers too.


There are now even virtual influencers, who’ll obviously do whatever their owners demand. And they can have sizable followings.


Influencers are themselves influenced by what other influencers they aspire to be like are like, and this can lead to them promoting whatever the latter are promoting without really understanding what those things really are, but just blindly trusting the influencers they trust. This has happened with risky weight-loss and weight-gain products. Significant sections of social media are full of the blind leading the blind!


Influencers typically sell a lifestyle. And a ‘girl/boy next door’ influencer appears more accessible than a movie star. It’s like you could have their lifestyle and/or be friends with them. Yet we know they’re putting on a performance. But they can’t be too fake. Yet if we feel duped, should we blame them or ourselves for being naïve?


Some people follow influencers who flaunt their cash and lavish lifestyles because it’s a form of escapism. It’s aspirational. But many of those who attempt to emulate these lifestyles, by purchasing whatever these influencers say we ‘need’ to live like them, end up in debt.


Companies also often employ celebrities as brand ambassadors, who are like more long-term, on-the-book influencers for those companies. They may be told by these companies to wear what they want them to wear, use what they want them to use, and say what they want them to say. Their social media posts are often just as scripted as TV commercials and are far away from being ‘spontaneous’ or ‘organic’, even though they’re made to look that way. How authentic can someone be when they’re under various contracts to do or say whatever they’re told to do or say?


It can be considered puzzling that so many people will buy stuff or believe in something just because someone well-known on social media says so, without doing separate research. Trust is key, but they’re there for commercial reasons too, or frequently above all. So if you feel compelled to repost something or follow a trend then realise that you may be being manipulated to feel this way by PR and marketing firms/departments. Subconscious brainwashing, or covert persuasion techniques, are being conducted by corporations to make us follow, share and purchase.


When followers attempt to form ‘close relationships’ with the influencers they follow – as in as fans but a lot closer than how celebrities used to be connected to their fans before online social media existed – some influencers really do genuinely care about their followers. Yet even so, when they have more than a few hundred of them, or certainly when they have over thousands, these influencers cannot give the bulk of them anything meaningful except a fantasy. (If you start typing a public figure’s name in a search, and the search engine suggests autocompletes for some common queries related to them – frequently occurring queries appear to be about whether they’re in a relationship. Some just want to know some dating gossip about someone but some really fantasise about having a chance of a relationship with them themselves. Another common query appears to be about their height for some reason.)


Only a core handful of followers maximum will receive a meaningful connection with a particular content creator, such as a streamer on Twitch – more than just ‘thanks for subscribing’ or the odd message of theirs read out. There isn’t enough time in anyone’s life to merely read out (never mind remember) the usernames of every follower just once per year, never mind be a real friend to them all. (It’s the same problem when some people apparently have thousands of ‘friends’ on Facebook – you can only spend any meaningful time with relatively a few true friends.) Work and social worlds collide – keep professional distance or treat like IRL (in real life) friends?


So even if a public figure is genuinely grateful for and wants to meaningfully connect with every single follower or fan, it’s impossible beyond an incredibly superficial level. Yet some fans will start assuming they’re essentially friends with the influencer, content creator or celebrity just for paying a monthly subscription or buying some of their merchandise, and will message them incessantly in the hope of receiving a direct reply from them, and call them, “Stuck up” if they don’t(!)


It’s a one-sided ‘parasocial relationship’ when a media consumer develops illusions of intimacy, friendship and identification with the media figure (or their public persona). However, for most followers, the feeling of ‘they’re talking specifically to me’ is enough. They know they’re never going to be like ordinary friends. It’s a transactional business relationship, and that’s understandable and okay. They’re entertainers and if one feels like one is being entertained then one will continue to support them. Meow.


It’s just that this business model or marketing strategy attempts to blur the lines between market and social relationships, when we need to remember that it’s primarily business/work and most influencers wouldn’t do what they do if it weren’t for trying to make a living, which is completely fine. Many really do want to build wholesome communities, raise awareness and money for good causes they’re properly knowledgeable champions of, remain relatable no matter how famous they may become, and aren’t sell-outs and never will be no matter the size of the yoghurt treats that’ll be dangled in front of them if their accounts grow extremely popular. It’s also tricky for the influencer because they want to attract as many fans as possible yet wouldn’t want to meet half of them because they might be creepy!


There’s no doubt that some people have primarily gotten to where they are because they exploit their physical attractiveness – many influencers wouldn’t receive any attention or therefore amass a large following if it weren’t for how they look. Their followers might subsequently like them on a deeper level but they wouldn’t have been given the chance in the first place if people didn’t check them out based solely on a thumbnail or short clip. Strip away all faces and bodies and judging solely on personality and talents – a different set of popular content creators would’ve emerged.


If beauty pageants say beauty competitions are worthwhile because they use them to highlight issues that are important (to them) – it’s basically implying that subjectively ugly people shouldn’t have a similar platform or voice(!) Perhaps it’s not the pageants’ fault because it’s just a reflection of the superficial society we live in that judges who should be listened to based on shallow reasons.


So models, celebrities and influencers benefit from a culture that judges heavily based on how people look. But then it’s a disadvantage when they receive unwanted types of attention, and when scammers use their images without their consent to set up fake accounts to conduct their frauds. A superficial culture is why the successful scammers are those who catfish using images of attractive individuals, and then it’s the victims who are doubly shamed rather than the scammers too.


It’s not nice to be told one is aesthetically challenged, even if one understands that this judgement is only a subjective opinion. Some people even genuinely feel awkward when they receive compliments on the way they look, especially if unsolicited from strangers. Even if they receive these compliments from those they know and trust, they might feel a pressure to maintain the way they look when they’d rather have more casual-dress or no-makeup days, or they might feel they’re being reduced to their exteriors while their deeper traits, intellects or talents they’ve worked much harder for are being overlooked. Some just feel awkward about receiving any kind of compliment. They might even get accused for only doing what they do for the attention – like accusing ‘girl gamers’ for not being serious about gaming, even though videogames are for all genders. (It’s bizarre, atrocious and not exaggerated how much general misogyny female gamers can still receive.)


Also, if all you have are your looks then there’ll always be younger and prettier people coming up!




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