In a digital age where everyone has a form of social medium, the influence of some public figures on brands and organisations cannot be overemphasized. The surge in the influence of social media on even the littlest business could be traced to the beginning of the millennium (2000) where brands like Indomie noodles, Coca cola and even telecommunication organisations began to see the need to influence the public to patronize them by putting the face of a public figure in their adverts. A stroke of inspiration, one could say. To the advantage of these organizations, it worked well in increasing their customers and clients. People simply patronized a business because their favorite actor, artist or footballer also purchased that brand. The social media influencers were within the circle of these top three till other individuals picked up social media influencing as a full time job.
With the varieties of social media applications increasing yearly from Facebook to WhatsApp to Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and its likes, individuals began to focus on growing a community or a group of followers within a particular application. A community that has over the time learned to trust their words and actions, learned to just like them for who they are and learned to- in social media term– follow them. It is almost as if when a social media influencer says “jump”, followers simply ask “how high?”. This is because influencers spend a lot of time with their audience building trust and followership. The social media applications themselves have also helped to promote the social media influencers by verifying them (giving them a tick) once they meet certain criteria. One would agree that such verification has earned the trust of the public. With such great influence on a large number of people, we can rightly conclude that social media influencers are a great advantage to businesses, organizations e.t.c. However, with everything that has an advantage, there is also a disadvantage as how the social media influencers use their power is important.
ADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS
- Trust and credibility is built quickly.
With a social media community that already trusts an influencer, using such individual quickly transfers such trust to a brand or organization. Followers believe in the taste and stand of their social media icon on a situation or brand. This really helps to boosts a brand’s target audience and increase number of clients.
- Unpopular issues are brought to light.
An example could be seen in the increase of the #ENDSARS protests online and offline. Many youths came out or began speaking strongly in support when their social media influencer spoke on it or came out to protest. This issue was unpopular some weeks back. Opinions or stand on various issues that seem unpopular can become popular in less than a minute the right social media influencer speaks on it.
- Target audiences are effectively reached.
Brands and organizations carefully select social media influencers to boost them. An energy drink company knows that the followers of a football star would probably play football and visit the gym regularly and so would need an energy drink. A football star would be selected for such company than an actress and so without much stress of searching for target audience, they leverage on the social media influencer. Same goes for legal matters, food companies, telecommunication companies e.t.c.
- Great creative content.
Social media influencers are creative. Every day, they invent new ways to keep their followers glued to their social media space which includes dropping quality contents. Such creative mind is usually transferred to boost a brand which of course keeps customers glued to the brand by patronizing.
DISADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS.
- Success cannot be accurately measured.
The influence of these icons on social media affects the accurate measure of a brand’s or organization’s success. With their help, an unknown brand can become popular in the blink of an eye even though the brand is not reliable or just kick started. Such brand cannot accurately say that their improvement overtime, hard work or consistency brought them into the limelight.
- A wrong influencer can harm.
With the same wave an influencer can boost a business is the same wave another can pull down the same. All it takes is for a wrong influencer to be used or such to say a wrong statement. This creates a 50-50% chance when using a social media influencer. Sometimes, it might even be the conduct of such influencer outside the social media world.
- Exorbitant fees.
Social media influencers at first influenced for free or cheap price but with the growing competition between brands, organisations and the social media influencers themselves, fees to employ a social media influencer has increased at an alarming rate. One can say there is little or no hope for start-ups to employ them.
With such benefits and yet drawbacks, brands and organizations should first research if a particular social media influencer shares the same vision and target audience before engaging, social media influencers should understand that they hold power over the brands and organizations they represent and should use such wisely and followers should trust their influencer (icon) with wisdom because some brands are not reliable.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com