Pseudo Digital Influencers
Pseudo Digital Influencers by Márcia Monteiro
In today’s digital age, we’ve all heard of Bloggers, Instagrammers or Youtubers, designations we’ve assigned to people with an outstanding position in certain social networks. In 2018 there was an upgrade to these designations and nowadays they’re referred as Digital Influencers.
But let’s analyse this step by step: what’s a Digital Influencer? In theory, a digital influencer is someone with a high notoriety in a certain social network. It’s a genuine notoriety, improved over time with true sharing and his/her own opinions.
In a way, this person has a positive influence over his followers who relate to the digital influencer for a variety of reasons (profession, lifestyle, sports, hobbies, personal interests). There are digital influencers that, besides being an online reference, they’ve become a true inspiration in their followers’ lives.
Brands have realised the potential the role of digital influencers could play in their marketing strategies on online channels, being used as a mean of communication and, in some cases, as a recommendation channel to their thousands of followers. The problem begins precisely here. Most brands operating on digital channels have no specialised knowledge in marketing or in consumer behaviour. We watch aggressive advertising and selling activities without any kind of framing, market analysis or a study of the consumer behaviour. In extreme cases, there’s a lack of common sense from brands once they invade our personal social network with this kind of actions, that are nothing related to marketing. And, it’s also at this moment that pseudo digital influencers arise.
Pseudo digital influencers are people with notoriety on social networks that decide to cope with this kind of selling activities in exchange of a remuneration. As simple as that. They do not share their true opinion about the brand’s product or services, they make tons of posts offering discounts for no reason, sharing contents with no real interest and making “reviews” based on the description on the product’s packaging and not exactly based on their actual experience. Is it this kind of people that brands wish to have as ambassadors?
This is why every day we see “stories” showing up in our feed without permission using #sportsbranddiscounts or #trainerswithdiscount, we see pseudo digital influencers who do not play sports but advertise to #gyms, others that do not have a healthy diet but, promote #foodsuplements, others that do not have financial problems but advertise #creditcards, others with their own car but offering a discount on transportation services (let’s not mention names) and we’ve also seen women promoting #miraclemoisturises on their profiles where 90% of the followers are men. To finish, miraculously, these brands have discovered the addresses of these digital pseudo influencers and do #unboxings, as if anyone had interest in seeing someone opening a box with a “gift” sent “unexpectedly”.
We are witnessing to a complete devirtualization of brands and to a reducing credibility of their products or services. The brands that adopted these terms have lost control over the publications made about them and pseudo digital influencers have lost their essence and truthfulness (if they ever had one) and have become pawns.
The result has been interesting: consumers have realised that this aggressive selling method is not credible, the social networks have decided to change algorithms, pseudo digital influencers beg for more likes and more followers to the point of publishing “follow me that I will follow you” or “help me get to 5.000 followers” and these brands have missed a unique opportunity to embrace digital channels which have so much potential, and the chance to ally themselves to true digital influencers that move legions of fans.
We, marketeers who truly understand how the market works, deeply regret this situation which has been brought by the brands that seek for pseudo digital influencers depending on their number of followers, instead of looking for true digital influencers who share the same values, whose lifestyle is in accordance to what brands wish to convey and, above all, have true opinions that can help consumers make purchasing decisions.
Our advice? Brands must understand what they are, know their values, remain true to themselves and understand their target. It is very important that brands know exactly to whom they wish to communicate. Only after understanding the target, they will be able to identify true digital influencers, not only due to the number of followers but also due to the audience engaged in their publications.
This is in fact, the great secret of true digital influence.
MA Marketing Course Leader
London School of Design and Marketing