[TAYLOR SLOAN]: I’m not a narcissist. I’m, like, an influencer.
– Ingrid Goes West (2017)
Are we all influencers?
In a sense, we all have the potential to be influencers. With the rise of social media and the internet, it’s easier than ever for anyone to create and share content that can potentially reach a wide audience. However, not everyone chooses to or is able to create content that gains a large following and engagement or has a significant impact on others.
What Are Influencers
The term “influencer” often refers specifically to individuals who have built a large (but not always) and engaged following on social media platforms and use their platform to promote products or lifestyles to their audience.
Ryan Williams, in his book The Influencer Economy: How to Launch Your Idea, Share It with the World, and Thrive in the Digital Age, defines it like: “Influencers are modern-day tastemakers, trendsetters, and opinion leaders, who can use social media to create and share content that can reach a global audience in a matter of seconds.”
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Are We All Influencers?
The influencer industry has become a popular option for those seeking creative freedom and self-employment, especially in the wake of the Great Recession.
Emily Hund, a researcher affiliate at the Center on Digital Culture and Society, author of The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media, examines how individual bloggers created a new cottage industry that threatens traditional institutions.
However, this industry promotes eroding boundaries between personal life and commercialism, with individuals constantly ready for market and relationships monetizable.
The influencer industry is not a passing fad, but instead represents a shift in how people view themselves and others. The financial and cultural weight of the industry is often underestimated, with enormous value created for brands and social media companies.
Despite this, influencers’ positions as workers remain precarious, with pressure to be always “on” and pay discrepancies and discrimination common. The industry has also resulted in production and marketing cycles speeding up, products designed for short-term use, and creative risk-taking minimized. Power has shifted away from individuals and towards major social media companies, with a lack of transparency about algorithms causing threats to visibility and potential income.
Despite these challenges, there’s the cultural and economic importance of the influencer industry, with its impact felt across many areas of our daily lives. However, it’s also important to highlight the need for influencers to prioritize their own values and interests, as well as managing their time and resources effectively in a highly competitive and rapidly changing landscape.