The Age of Social Media Influencers – what does this mean for us?

Pulled along in different directions.  Photo credit: Wally Gobetz (Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/7897657764/)
Pulled along in different directions.
Photo credit: Wally Gobetz (Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/7897657764/)

The increasing use of digital and social media is often brought up as an influential factor for how communication and the consumption of information has changed over the past few decades. Since all change is met with resistance from old dogs who would rather not learn new tricks, thank you very much, online personalities are not given due credit for starting or swaying trends that are then taken up by mainstream media. This group of online influencers who have cropped up on your laptop and mobile screens is just one of many aspects that have changed the media landscape.

What does this mean for media and media consumers like ourselves? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons below:

PRO: New networks of social influencers

Gone are the days of relying on your favourite celebs (who are probably paid millions and don’t believe in the products they are shilling) to tell you what tech gadgets to get or what latest diet will help you get that beach ready body. Now it is completely possible and not that strange for you to follow the advice of the people on your computer screen at home. An interesting phenomenon has seen the so-called ‘internet celebrity’ receive the same adoration from their audiences as Hollywood heavyweights. This has led to a decentralised network of influencers as the consumer/audience is given more power to pick and choose who and what to believe in.

Click here and here to read some short but insightful articles on the topic.

CON: Beware of unethical or subliminal promotion

That being said, the recommendations that online personalities provide and the lifestyles they lead influence audiences and that is something that should be approached ethically and truthfully by the blogger. Most bloggers and vloggers have attach disclaimers on their content posts, but be aware of sneaky product placements and PR samples, which are a different way for a brand to gain attention without the need for directly sponsored posts.

Click here to read about legislation in Britain that calls for more transparency about bloggers and vloggers paid endorsements. An interesting development that I personally think should be adopted globally.

PRO: New forms of entertainment and information dissemination

There is no doubt that the self-expression on the internet can take on place through many different mediums and that anyone and everyone can see it. Bloggers and vloggers are at the forefront of this change, providing entertainment and information in a voice that doesn’t talk down to the audience but rather invites readers and viewers into a two-way discussion.

This method of communication is proving so popular that traditional broadcast mediums are scrambling to incorporate new media in order to remain a relevant part of the conversation. Online influencer Tyler Oakley made an observation in an interview with The Daily Beast, saying ‘I think that it’s been pretty evident for a while now how traditional [media] has wanted to go a little digital and digital has wanted to go a little bit traditional.’

CON: Too much choice!

In a negative that might not be a negative, having so much choice in terms of what media to consume and engage with has proven incredibly confusing. With online personalities’ ability to produce quality content, there should be no discrimination from enjoying a mix of opinion blogs, news sites, YouTube videos, Netflix series or films. Good luck to all navigating through the internet – there will always be another entertaining/though-provoking/informative piece of content.

Do you think ‘The Age of Social Media Influencers’ is an apt way to describe recent social changes? Let me know below.

Mariel x

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