By Julia Dolinshek
What is a Social Media Influencer?
Within the last decade, social media has become an extremely popular outlet for individuals of all kinds to interacts with family, friends, and brands that they love. The rapid growth of social media has caused brands to hire social media influencers to promote their products and spread a positive light onto their company (Singh, et al., 2020). With so many people being active users of social media, brands took advantage of the ones with a high following to not only promote their products, but also represent their brand as a whole.
Reports indicate that over two thirds of multinational brands around the world plan to increase spending on influencer marketing within the coming years (World Federation of Advertisers, 2018). Global spending in social media marketing and communication are expected to reach $15 billion by 2022 (Schomer, 2019). Social media influencers typically consist of individuals who have a sizable audience who are willing to create content based on different products and ideas that they support. Their followers are likely to trust any brand or product that they are endorsing, with an end goal of more people supporting the brand being promoted. With social media influencers using effective communication and marketing skills, while also being paid by the brand, everybody wins. Although the publicity is great for both parties, issues can arise when the personal lives of influencers are brought to life. This has the potential to impact a brand for the better or for the worse.
Social Media Influencer’s Impact on a Brand – Better or Worse?
It’s no secret that humans are all imperfect. We all try our hardest to be our best selves, both publicly and privately. It is easy for someone who is not in the public eye to make a mistake. They are able to realize a mistake, learn from it, and grow as a person because of it. There is not a large following of people to bash them and make them feel like they are unforgivable. As a social media influencer, this is not the case. Social media influencers are held to a high standard for many reasons. These individuals can be representing multiple well-known companies at a time. They are also the inspiration and role models to many of their followers. Research has shown that recommendations from social media influencers enhance consumers’ positive perceptions about a brand and consequent purchase intentions (Lu, Chang, & Chang, 2014). When a social media influencer makes a public mistake, it immediately reflects negatively on the brands that they are collaborating with. It causes the brands image to look poor, which can cause a loss of many valued customers. In today’s time, there are so many different brands to support and love. If an influencer who is promoting a particular brand is involved with a public scandal, it may cause supporters of the brand and the influencer to step back and find other competing brands to support instead.
Social media influencer Olivia Jade was followed and looked up to by millions. She was a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle influencer. She had various partnerships with well-known companies such as Sephora, HP, Lulus and Amazon. In spring of 2019, it was discovered that Olivia Jade’s parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli had paid $500,000 in bribes to get her admitted into the University of Southern California. Followers and supporters of Olivia were all baffled by the news, stating that she was the “poster child for white privilege” (Clark, 2020). This not only made Olivia Jade look bad, but also the companies that chose to partner with her. This scandal led to all of these companies dropping Olivia Jade as a social media influencer for their brand.
Companies also sponsor individuals who will make their brand look even better than ever. Tik Tok star, Charli D’Amelio, is sponsored by popular brands such as Dunkin Donuts, Invisalign, Pura Vida Bracelets, Hollister Co., and more. Charli promotes to over 160 million followers. In 2020, Charli used her voice to speak out on topics such as Black Lives Matter, the murder of George Floyd (Charli D’Amelio: Trading card, 2021). This not only educated her large following on important events, but let others know that she is an ally and supportive of equality for all. This specific example would reflect positively on brands that she collaborates with.
Bringing it all together
Influencers hold great power for brands within the world of social media. Appealing to the correct target audience while effectively communicating positives about products will have great impacts on what consumers chose to purchase and support. Social media is bigger than ever before. Brands are choosing to pay social media influencers top dollar in order to shine a positive light on their company.
Charli D’Amelio: Trading card. SponsorUnited. (2021, November 24). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://sponsorunited.com/charli-damelio-trading-card/#:~:text=TikTok%20superstar%20Charli%20D’amelio,influence%20on%20social%20media.
Clark, Chavaz. (2020, December 9). Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin’s daughter, breaks silence on college admissions scandal, says she was “poster child of white privilege”. CBS News. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/olivia-jade-giannulli-lori-loughlin-college-admission-scandal-interview/
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