It's time to redefine the influencer

July
9, 2021

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Social media influencers are a strong community. According to Statista, 78% are under 34 years old, 34% under 24 years. Social media will continue to provide a massive platform for today's youth to build their influencer foundations, and access is near universal and costs little more than a smartphone, Wi-Fi connection, and creativity.

With positive economic growth, these emerging entrepreneurs are now mainstream entertainers and ingrained in both B2C and B2B corporate advertising strategies. Despite the soaring popularity of influencers with consumers and brands, what was once considered organic marketing is raising the eyebrows of collective consumers for authenticity: A recent international study found that only 4% of people believe that Information is shared by influencers in social networks media is true, and the rate of successful “influencing” has also decreased.

Even so, the number of people we identify as influencers continues to skyrocket – undoubtedly a by-product of the worldwide stay-at-home orders that have accelerated and popularized the generation and consumption of influencer content. The term "influencer" was previously used to refer to those with large social supporters and consumer product advertising contracts, and has expanded to include political leaders, executives, social justice advocates, dancers, poets, esports competitors, and many others to represent a platform. “Authenticity” is an important part of the brands of these entrepreneurs, but the tendency to group them all under the umbrella term “influencer” leads to a loss of public trust.

So it is time to rethink our colloquial language and rename the term "influencer" to a more representative title: Social media leader and entrepreneur.

Here are four ways society can make this cultural shift happen:

1. Redefine the term "influencer"

Start by phasing out the term in favor of stronger language that recognizes the entrepreneurial leadership of these content creators and proponents. To influence means to influence the character, development or behavior of someone or something. While you can exert influence without actively intending to do so, the term is often used as a synonym for "manipulate", which is likely to add to, or even denote, the recent loss of confidence.

These influencers can become famous in different ways, from hectic to coincidence. Regardless of how they get there, once they hit this mainstream level they will become social media executives and entrepreneurs, and it is time to recognize them as such.

Related: Does It Mean Something To Be An Influencer?

2. Develop more academic curricula for social media and digital businesses

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when the internet was considered a dying fad. According to Statista, e-commerce retail sales are now $ 469 billion in the US alone and is expected to grow to $ 563 billion by 2025.

Nevertheless, there is still little structured education via social media in today's education system. Sure, there are plenty of marketing courses, entrepreneurship degrees, and digital bootcamps out there that talk about the power of social media as a tool – but are they exploring social media as a business itself, driven at the individual and corporate level? Today's youth use digital media as their main means of communication. We need to better enable them to understand their economic approach.

3. Democratize support services

As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of social media users are under 34 years of age and cover different levels of income and education. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, 69.4% of influencers chose influencers for revenue, but budding social media executives and entrepreneurs don't have the same infrastructure to turn successful digital businesses into broader endeavors, should they so wish do this.

It is time to empower our aspiring social media entrepreneurs by providing support services and resources (legal and advice) to help them start their own socially owned businesses and convert their platforms into meaningful income that can be used as a stepping stone for economic mobility and careers. It also includes social applications and tools to better serve executives and entrepreneurs on social media by providing them with a structure to build, manage, and maintain their personal businesses and brands (which is certainly going on).

Related: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Influencer

4. Expand the scope from support to partnership

For the above to work, brands need to meet influencers halfway. The time has come for companies across a range of industries to see influencers as more than just a means of promoting. Social media entrepreneurs have already proven that they are more than the sum of their followers by sharing truly valuable and engaging social, political and cultural content.

Rather than viewing the relationship with an influencer as just another marketing channel and contract, brands have the option to connect with social media executives and entrepreneurs as real partners, just as they would with a group company or even a traditional celebrity Speakers would do.

Conclusion

As the size of the influencer market continues to grow, trust in the term does not grow. The time has come to draw attention to the mislabeling of a huge – and growing – part of our economy. We have the ability to validate social channels as a respected, resourceful, and proven path to success. It's up to the social media companies that provide the platforms, the brands that provide the recommendations, and the educational institutions that provide the knowledge to push the boundaries of their own definitions and continue to innovate, and the long-term social and acknowledge financial benefits of doing so.

Related: How to Spot a Fake Influencer

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