Are we over influencers or influencer culture?

The goalposts have been moved when it comes to successful influencer content and the stakes for missing the right tone have never been higher. 

We’ve seen headlines such as, ‘The Death of Influencers’ and ‘The Era of Influencers is over’ for quite a few years now. Yet, when we open our social media, there are more sponsored posts and paid partnerships than ever before! According to Statista there were over 3.8 billion posts using #ad in 2021, but this number is estimated to have grown exponentially since. 

The Decline of Traditional Influencer Culture

At Disrupt, we believe that it’s not actually Influencers that are dead, but rather the concept of ‘traditional’ influencer culture. By that, we mean ‘copy and paste’ influencers posting out-of-place brand advertisements, which carry as much credibility as a Kim Kardashian drinking a Guinness. OG influencers rose to fame by being highly aspirational figures, creating content that left their audience in awe of their life. We were supposed to believe they are both above us and the same as us at once. However, as social media platforms are maturing, so are their audiences! 

Twitter: @iwan

Social media users are becoming more clued up on the effects it has on their mental health and are quick to unfollow creators that evoke negative emotions like envy or dissatisfaction with their own lives. In addition, recent economic challenges have seen increased backlash for influencers that overly display their wealth, seeing them labelled as ‘tone deaf’ and living in a different world (let’s not forget the Lydia Millen and the Savoy incident). In short, audiences appear to be sick of feeling less than the influencers they are following and rather want to see relatable, entertaining content that makes them feel good! 

The goalposts have been moved when it comes to successful influencer content and the stakes for missing the right tone have never been higher. 

Real people, real stories, real influence

So what is the right way of approaching influencer campaigns? Audiences want real people with real stories, who transparently show their lives. For brands, this means content that is too polished or obviously rehearsed often doesn’t perform as well as candid formats. But more importantly, it’s about choosing the right profile for your brand. 

Working with authentic content creators within the relevant vertical over simply selecting influencers with a large following does not only raise brand awareness in a more suitable audience but tends to increase campaign performance overall. 

The ‘everyday’ era

Authentic, witty and relatable everyday content creators are quickly overtaking the ‘original influencers’, amplified by the growth of TikTok and the main formats changing from image to video focus. This wave of new creators and more entertaining formats meant that anyone slow to adapt and unable to grow a closer relationship with their audience was left behind with a proportionally smaller following and considerably lower engagement. Influencers are no longer able to hide behind a perfectly curated and aesthetic feed, which used to be an industry fast-pass to fame. 

Meanwhile, content creators like Calum Harper, who grew his following to 1.8M on TikTok in a little over a year by showing BTS-style content from his modelling career are skyrocketing. 

The new generation of influencers tend to be seen as normal people that happen to have a large following due to their personality, rather than having built their entire lives around influencing as a career – causing their voices to be more credible and relatable to their audience.

This transition to ‘real-life’ influencers has also created new opportunities for people who don’t fit the blueprint of the original influencers, and as such, we now have a far richer, well represented and varied influencer landscape that gives space to a vast range of personalities, cultures and lifestyles. 

As an agency, it is our responsibility to find those credible and relevant voices and to partner up with them in a way that allows a two-way dialogue between the brand and its audience, rather than giving a product and a script to the most followed influencers.

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