In an age where traditional press is going through a dramatic period of adaptation, the ‘influencer’ still cuts a somewhat enigmatic figure; the rogues of journalism, these individuals do not sit behind the trusted names of publishing houses that have spent decades building up their reputation and following. Hand-in-hand with social media, influencers have harnessed the new wave of journalism and formed an entirely new beast altogether.
A 2013 Nielsen survey noted that over 80% of respondents said they trusted endorsements from people they know. This increased in 2016 to 92% and evolved to include trusting people they didn’t know over faceless brands. This arguably has always been the case but never before has the layman had access to a platform which gives them so much reach. Paradoxically, influencers often have little proof of their credibility; they don’t necessarily have qualifications or specialist degrees or a CV that consolidates their integrity, yet they have still gained the public’s trust.
This is where the influencer has found its niche: they represent a transparent consumer, a reporter of the people, the journalist who is also your mate. Although it is hard to pinpoint the success of influencers in cold hard figures, influencer marketing was crowned the most cost-effective online customer acquisition method in 2016, perhaps down to the higher level of engagement influencers receive. The average engagement for an influencer post is 2%, compared to a brand post of 0.5% – almost quadruple, a pretty impressive figure.
The time for the influencer is undoubtedly now, and now that association with influencers is being linked with financial results brands are beginning to sit up and listen, and those who aren’t, should. The influencer has emerged from the social media ether and has officially established its place in the traditional world of press.