Influencers. How Influential Are They?

Nowadays, you can’t escape from the word “influencers” in any conventional or social media platforms. Their voice seems increasingly loud or is it just a temporary fad?

You can’t go to social media these days without some people (Influencers?) yelling at you about some products, streaming into your consciousness with a couple of agendas, or having a sneaky son of a gun or two trying to proselytise you into succumbing to their religion, ideology, politics, or loving dogs.

Having resisted those, especially the latter, I can’t help but notice that what used to be random knocks on the door (physical) by strangers selling snake oil, or Jesus Christ, has since creeped into the cyberworld and jumped straight through the telcos into our hand devices. The nerve.

You see, a friend mentioned Ozempic that I know nothing of, and being both rational-minded and panicky at the same time from not having a clue about what sounds like Olimpic as pronounced by Scooby Doo, I ended up googling, where I kept bumping into which influencers said what and which popular Youtubers recommended which. Like, I give a damn?

The Explosion of Influencers

The trouble is, I am almost alone. Many, many users of social media have caught up with the wave of influencers grabbing them by the back of the neck (virtually, go easy on your imagination, will ya?) and pouring opinions or photos of their well-endowed posteriors down the users’ throats.

The growth of these content creators has been so phenomenal that if you ask most kids what they want to be when they grow, quite a large number would say, you guessed it, astronauts. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s to be influencers, of course, with the article in the link revealing a finding that over 57% of Gen Z’ers surveyed desired influencer roles, outpacing other age groups by16%, and a majority (53%) view it as a respectable career choice. Respectable.

The burgeoning interest is understandable. Here’s a headline screaming, “Google Searches for Influencer Marketing grew 1500% over 3 years.” Take a gander at this chart. Of course these are 2019 figures, but you can imagine the numbers now as we speak.

Influencer Marketing Trends over Three Years
Influencer Marketing Trends over three years Pix courtesy of <a href=httpsinfluencermarketinghubcominfluencer marketing 2019 benchmark report~text=Influencer20marketing20has20continued20tobecome20a20246520billion20industry>Influence Marketing Hub<a>

Also, according to Statista (a statistic portal, duh), the global influencer marketing market size has more than tripled since 2019. In 2024, the market was estimated to reach a record of 24 billion U.S. dollars.

As of 2023, social media continues to thrive, with an estimated 4.9 billion people actively using various platforms worldwide. The most widely used platform remains Facebook, boasting 2.9 billion monthly active users globally.

<em>More upward trend showing chart from <em><a href=httpsinfluencermarketinghubcomwp contentuploads201703Monosnap Number of worldwide social network users png target= blank rel=noopener title=><em>Statista<em><a><em><em>

The Definition

Has influencer marketing become that important? What in the name of Goebbels is a social media influencer anyway, asks anyone who just walked into this article. Grab some popcorn (that’s probably recommended by your favourite influencer).

The same Influencer Marketing Hub site defines it as:

  • the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.
  • a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. The size of the following depends on the size of his or her topic in the niche.

My own personal definition is that it is a sort of bastard child of “celebrity ambassadorship” and “word on the street.”  Mostly useless but hung on to by fans and gossip consumers.

Yet, as history is the witness, with great growth comes the inevitable, the great crash. Like the infamous stock market crash in 1929 which actually followed a bull run at that circuit . Will the influencers of today become the Hello Kitty of tommorrow? Remember those YoYos that kept us kids tied up back in the 80s. Check out this reddit entry on dead trends and don’t be surprise if you are cowering in embarassment. Bad comparison, but there’s a lesson there.

The Fall?

If the traditional media has “reporters” and “journalists” (don’t scratch your balding scalp; they can mean the same thing), social media has influencers. But unlike traditional media, social media influencers do not exist as a group or as an organisation.

Because that may not happen. Already, the influencers have taken up arms against each other; heated rivalry, jealousy, serious controversy, and some petty (or, as we say in Malay, remeh temeh) reasons are pushing away the users. Not to mention fake numbers, as there are even companies that can help, with some fee, with the number of followers. It’s getting messy over there with bogus accounts and fraudulent chats (or the other way around; I leave it to you).

Slowly, influencers may have the potential to reside next to trolls as the bottom feeders of cyberspace. It is unregulated, as this article explains that the influencer industry is “a space for both entrepreneurship and exploitation, connection and harassment, truth and falsehood, self-expression and harm, encountering new ideas, and finding comfort in familiar biases.”.

The Regulation

This is where regulations may want to place themselves amidst the fiercely competing online entities. Who and what? We don’t know for now, and though individual countries have their own regulatory bodies, they can only do so much patrolling, and platforms like Facebook do their own bit of policing the content, as they temporarily ban its abusive users, though the latter can always sneak in as different avatars or simply move on to a greener terrain like TikTok, which is now the fastest-growing social media app and the most sought-after outlet by influencers, especially as it is suitable for followers with the attention span of a domestic fly.

Will there be a great fall in this whole business of influencing online? No, not necessarily (which is why there’s a question mark next to the word in the headline), but it would definitely evolve. The users get old, and the needs change.

Let’s not forget, it might even take a toll on the influencers, where a few have actually committed suicide, no thanks to the very platform that gave them the fame. Not to mention, the same platform has since been invaded by politicians, especially those trying to win the young voters.

Nevertheless, fret not; we can be assured of the fact that, at least, these practitioners of politics would never commit suicide should bitterness engulf them. Never. Not when they have the skin of a rhinoceros—one of the biggest criteria for being a social media influencer. – NMH

Read more articles by the same writer:

The Boycott Issue: More Than Just Socks!
Bullets Ahoy! Death Threats And What’s Happening In Malaysia

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Rakesh Premakumaran Kumar
A movie buff, as opposed to film connoisseur or aficionado, because the last two words are hard to spell, Rakesh has been in the field of writing for more than two decades and hopes that one-day movie “buff”ing is lucrative enough to afford him a Batmobile, the Michael Keaton one.

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