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Social Media Influencers: A Skin-Deep Industry?

Social Media Influencers: A Skin-Deep Industry?

An advertisement by local micro-influencers agency, Faves Asia infuriated many for a few reasons but none of the offences were as great as misrepresenting the influencer industry as an easy road to fame and wealth. The video was taken off within days after overwhelming lash backs.

While one spends hours incessantly scrolling through social media gawking at the picture perfect lush lifestyles of influencers, it can be hard to refrain from thinking that a pretty face and a little bit of luck are all that it takes to be one of them. However, the reality is often much more different from our wishful imaginations. So, what are the three fundamental qualities of a successful social media influencer?

Identity

If you want to be known for everything, you’ll be known for nothing. – Dan Schawbel

To move beyond merely being a forgettable pretty face on Instagram, one needs to establish a distinctive online persona. This requires the influencer to have a clear sense of direction in content creation and to establish a reputation as the reference point for a single or a collection of interests. As such, a true influencer also creates waves and not merely ride on fads with generic content. This requires an intricate balance between being avant-garde and attuning to current market preferences.

Likability

A good influencer maintains their likability by putting time and effort into building trust and rapport among followers, clients, and other influencers in the industry. – Copyrise

On top of looking good and being creative, it’s important to have an amicable personality. When it comes to monetising the influence, influencers need to establish a healthy working relationship with brands and businesses. With the mushrooming of micro-influencers, it’s a buyer’s market. Given the same extent of influence, businesses and agencies will always go with those easier to work with over divas. It’s commonsensical to have common courtesy, especially when an influencer’s key criteria is to be likeable.

Integrity

At the end of the day, I’m selling my taste and my eye – if I do things off-brand I will lose the respect. – Camille Charrière, Instagram fashion influencer, 529k followers

However, being likeable does not mean being a yes-man or yes-woman all the time. For social media influencers who means business, while paying the bills is crucial, integrity should be the constant guiding principle. Influencers must genuinely like a brand and its products to be able to ‘sell’ it and for the followers to ‘buy’ the post and to buy the product. A mismatch of brands and influencers at best does not lead to significant sales and at worst, debase the reputation and following of the influencer. Camille has even turned down a contract worth £100,000 from fashion giant, Macy’s because the clothes were not of her style and not what her followers would appreciate [I].

Wielding significant persuasiveness in their domains, influencers may choose to monetize the influence, use it to further causes close to their hearts or simply remain as a gratis entertainer. To be able to choose among these options, an individual must meet the necessary pre-requisites. While appearance does help to pave the way, true influencers are certainly more than genetics and cosmetics.

[I] Vogue, What Is An Influencer, Mar 2017.

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