Are Social Media Influencers the New Age Celebrities?

“You’re an influencer”.

“Aargh, I hate that word!”

“But that is what you are. You are no longer just a ‘blogger’, you have influence, and you influence people’s buying decisions”.

This is the exchange I had with a friend of mine a few months ago who is a beauty and mommy blogger/vlogger/influencer with thousands of following on social media.

Who or what is an influencer?

An influencer is a person who is capable of influencing a consumer’s purchase decision. An influencer is typically someone with a massive social media following. The Marketing Hub describes an influencer as an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. Read more here.

     Celebrity?

According to the Collins dictionary, a celebrity is someone who is famous especially in areas of entertainments such as films, writing or sport.

So how do the two relate? A celebrity can be an influencer but can an influencer be a celebrity?

Traditionally, celebrities were the only influencers. But how things have changed. You are an influencer not because of a skill you possess e.g. acting, singing, sports or dancing. You’re an influencer because of the number of followers and engagement you have on social media.

And what’s more, you have different categories of ‘influencers’. You have ‘influencers’ and then you have ‘micro-influencers’. The latter are mini-influencers who have between 10 thousand and 100 thousand followers.

Have influencers replaced celebrities when it comes to brand endorsement?

When it comes to marketing campaigns for products, most global brands have a marketing budget for both celebrities and influencers. But these days, brands seem to rely more on influencers than they do on celebrities to promote their products or associate with their brand – brand ambassador program. Why? Because people aka consumers find influencers more relatable than celebrities.

An influencer is ‘normal’. He or she is like you and I. Influencers have the same struggles that we do; bad hair days, fat days, broken refrigerator, overbearing toddlers, the list is endless.

Not to say celebrities are abnormal or that they too don’t have similar or the same problems but they are much more discreet about it. They would rather not have the world know about their troubles. One of an influencer’s main roles is to be relatable.

After all, you can’t affect change if people can’t relate to you. Just think of politics and politicians and you’ll get the picture.

Shane Barker of small biz trends ran a Twitter poll to find out who people believed would dominate the consumer industry this year, influencers or celebrities? A surprising 77% of the participants voted influencers.

Beauty and fashion brands like Fashionova, Lancome, Too Faced, Black Opal and KKW are all realising the power of the influencer and thus centring their marketing campaigns around influencers, queue the term ‘influencer marketing’.

Unlike most celebrities, influencers engage with their followers. They respond to comments, provide content based on what you, their followers enjoy and request.

Because of the effect influencers have on consumers, they are adored by brands. Dare I call them ‘brand darlings’?  They are treated much in the same way that celebrities are. Free travel and accommodation,  first-class travel and all the perks that come with it.

It is in fact celebrities who now want to be like influencers. Celebrities and beauty moguls, Rihanna and Kylie Jenner recently created a How to: makeup tutorial video showing consumers how they use cosmetics from their makeup line, in an effort to connect with their consumers. A few years ago, this was not done. The makeup tutorials were strictly reserved for the beauty vloggers/bloggers aka ‘influencers’.

Celebrities VS Influencers

There is often some confusion distinguishing between celebrities and influencers. They both have a huge social media following, they both are fawned over by brands and consumers and now that brands see the value in influencer marketing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between the two.

However, the major distinguishing factor between influencers and celebrities is that the former has a strong online presence and is not famous for sports or entertainment. Most new age influencers are famous for going ‘viral’ online.

What makes influencers the new age celebrities?

Here are 4 reasons 

Image credit – Dreamstime

1. Buying Power

In the past, celebrities are the ones with the mass appeal that could influence a consumer’s buying decision. Celebrities and adverts. Now, brands pay influencers to promote their products. Because they realise that consumers are more likely to buy a product because their friend or someone with a similar skin tone to theirs uses and swears by the product.

I’ve bought products based solely on the reviews of influencers, Jennie Jenkins, Patricia Bright and Jackie Aina. Many of us do. Influencers are influenced by other influencers, it’s a cycle.

Image credit – Any Subject

 2. Fan/Follower?

Fans of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Justin Bieber, to name a few, would faint or scream at the sight of their idol, barely able to contain themselves, and then ask for a picture or an autograph. This is also becoming the case with social media influencers and their followers.

Influencers are now held in the same high esteem as some of these A-list actors and musicians.

Image credit – Milled.com

3. Brand sponsorships

Depending on how popular you are and how many followers you have, brands want to work with you. It used to be that brands would send free items to celebrities; from cars, clothing to jewellery. But now brands send their products to social media influencers just for a chance of a mention on the influencer’s social media channel.

Image credit – Canva

4. Hollywood lifestyle

Influencers get the VIP treatment that used to be reserved solely for A-list celebrities. From free travel and accommodation to discounted living. Some of these influencers even get to rub shoulders with the A-list celebs and or work with them.

Image credit – Youtube

Are celebs worth it?

This is the question most brands and digital marketing experts are starting to ask. According to Tribe Dynamics, 80% of the top 15 beauty brand collaborations for the first half of the year were co-ventures with influencers. Just a mere 20% were collaborations with celebrities.

Because influencers are now hot commodity their value has risen and so has their star power.

Are you an influencer or aspiring to be one? Do you agree that influencers are the new ‘celebrities’?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment down below.

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