Influencers for Good
Influencers are replacing digital ads and celebrities as the preferred approach for brands to connect with consumers. Bullshit doesn’t work as well as it used to and Influencers are seen as more relatable.
Celebrities can grab our attention briefly because of who they are, but no one believes they really care about the product they’re endorsing. And digital ads are just the worst. Who could possibly think that dropping a full-page graphic interruption on top of the story you’re just starting to read would help foster a favorable attitude about anything?
Ads and celebrities are pushed in our face. Influencers aren’t.
People choose to check out Instagram or Tik Tok posts or watch their favorite live stream because they’re interested in the poster or the streamer, what he or she does, where they go, who they chill with. What they’re wearing.
It’s complicated. You have your micro-Influencers with < 20,000 Followers, your mid-range, and your top tier with > 100,000 — all platform specific. A top tier Influencer on Instagram can earn $400 — $500 per sponsored post. That’s just Instagram.
In China, where numbers about anything important are always ridiculous, top tier Influencers on a single social media platform, such as Xiaohongshu, can earn over $7,000 rmb (> $1,000) for a single post. Often referred to as KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), Influencers in China are already beginning to bypass brands altogether and establish their own product lines.
The World Wide Web is largely advertising-driven. Changes in the world of advertising change the way the internet is funded. And now the slogan is:
Don’t Advertise — Influence
That’s a powerful slogan, if you ask me.
Influencers do not make meaningless promises about products like ads do. They enable conversations. Followers chat with Influencers. They comment. They retweet. They talk with each other. Brands can listen and respond.
It’s all very interesting and I’m just scratching the surface. I haven’t mentioned short-videos by ‘Creatives,’ or live streaming, or AI for matching Brands with Influencers. There are plenty of commentators and consultants explaining all that and more. I follow a podcast, for example, dedicated completely to China Influencer Marketing.
But I do have One Big Problem that is not being discussed much if at all. It has to with the word, ‘influence,’ which means
a general capacity to have an effect on others, even to make change
The term, ‘Influencer,’ however, is not about a general capacity — it refers specifically to the ability to get other people to Buy Stuff.
Before you start assuming I’m a Communist and against Buying Stuff, I promise I am not. I love buying stuff and I am highly influenced when I do by real-life friends and family and by online reviews.
What I am against is the idea that Influencers should be promoted to effect or change consumer behavior only.
The people and the Brands they work for that are harnessing the power of Influencers are clearly onto something. Why shouldn’t we think about using Influencers to touch other aspects of people, the parts of us that want to become an artist, to adopt more healthy behaviors, to learn new skills, or to help other people?
We need Influencers for Good.
I’d follow their live stream or Instagram feed if they appeared to be authentically living in some way that I aspired to live — especially if following them somehow motivated me — influenced me — to act more that way.
Or, as a parent, I would encourage my children to follow them if I believed they exemplified values or a way of living I felt good about.
I would pay money to help my children connect with someone who I see as an Influencer for Good.
I wouldn’t be Buying Stuff, I would be buying a type of relationship for my kids. Maybe a Membership that would provide access to Facetime Events or private AMAs.
The right Influencer for Good could create a reasonable revenue stream, based on connection.
Suppose you’re involved in a non-profit trying to accomplish a social benefit of some sort. Is there someone in the organization whose life style and natural personality exemplify that social benefit. Why not focus on her and show her, being herself, on the social media platforms that attract your target audience?
I have someone in mind for this approach to non-profit funding. She is a musician, so it is easy to make entertaining short videos — and she has already accomplished things musically that females are not usually able to do in Cambodia. And she’s just getting warmed up.
Right now, it’s just my idea. Maybe others will agree, maybe not. There’s a process to go through. I’ll let you know what happens.