Who Are the Influencers?

Pictured above: Josiah Wedgwood
Influencer marketing: a diagram

Who gets to be an influencer?

FX’s The New York Times Presents investigated the world of influencers in its seventh episode. The documentary turned much of its attention to “collab cribs,” rented spaces where social media creators live and work together. In practice, splitting rent and collaborating is a pragmatic choice. But by looking at different collab cribs and drawing comparisons between them, the NY Times was able to point out certain trends.

Example of an edited influencer photo from Insider.com

Who owns the influencers?

Here’s an idea: influencer marketing succeeds because social media content appears more authentic. Whereas traditional ads are focus-group-tested, premediated, and shaped by marketing executives, Instagram and Tik Tok allow for comparative sincerity. The most successful influencers foster parasocial relationships. As such, they speak to viewers as friends and peers. This is especially true when selling you on a product¹¹.

One fictional influencer working under the handle: @sydneyplus

Will influencers herald a brave new world?

If my opening Josiah Wedgwood anecdote wasn’t any indication, influencers have been around as long as marketers needed them. Though the word itself is new, influential people have always held commercial sway. And yet, since this term gained popularity, the number of aspiring influencers has skyrocketed.

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