Recently influencers, their engagement rates, and the role they play as active marketers for brand partners have come under a lot of scrutiny. While it is quite captivating to watch influencers’ dazzling, envy-inducing lives unfold on Instagram, there is, honestly, quite little that you can actually relate to.
Ironically, influencers owe their popularity to the dialogue that they established with consumers through social media and the resulting personal touch they brought to marketing. But between all the glamorous front-row invites, extravagant gifts, and paid brand partnerships, influencers have somewhat lost the connection they once built with their audiences. It is as if influencers have evolved to become a brand of their own, making it (almost) impossible to connect with the person behind the content.
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As the line between genuine, engaging content and paid partnerships continues to blur, it is becoming increasingly difficult for influencers to get today’s hyper-informed consumers to loosen their purse strings. Perhaps this explains why influencers generate high engagement rates, but often have relatively low conversion rates. Realizing this disconnect, major brands are downsizing influencer marketing budgets and investing instead in innovative up-and-coming marketing avenues. Leaving us with the question, what’s next for the influencer community?
According to Business Insider, the influencer marketing industry is estimated to be worth 15 billion dollars by 2022. With social media so deeply entrenched into our lives, influencer marketing is far from over. In fact, the role of social media influencers is only expected to grow and evolve. WGSN has predicted that we will soon witness the rise of what the trend forecasting agency has dubbed “Genuinfluencers.”
What Are Genuinfluencers?
Social media is a great place to connect with friends, network, build, and advertise your brand. Unfortunately, social media platforms can just as easily feed you misinformation and rumors. This is where Genuinfluencers come into play. Much like influencers who are paid by brands to cultivate a fantasy around their products that in turn result in sales, Genuinfluencers will be employed by organizations to do just the opposite – engage their audience with authentic storytelling based on facts.
For example, Finland named 1,500 influencers as essential workers during the pandemic and tasked them with spreading important information on COVID-related safety. According to WGSN, we will see more and more virtual influencers – employed by organizations such as the World Health Organization – emerge to spread key information with a focus on lessons learned over likes acquired.
The emergence of Genuinfluencers is (almost) certain. It will, however, be interesting to see whether they will be able to thrive amongst the glossy Instagram content creators or if they’ll take to more “real” platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse.