Health Warning: It’s not too late to get your brain vaccinated against the current influencer epidemic!
In a relatively short period of time the internet has thrown up some truly disgusting and abhorrent people and practices – too many of them to detail here but just to remind you, think of trolls, white supremacists, child predators, political manipulators and scam artists.
A more recent addition to that reprehensible roster, although warmly embraced by many, would be the so-called ‘influencers’ – celebrities and those with a talent for being noticed who profit big time by pushing products and services to their devoted social media following.
Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are their regular pulpits where they enthusiastically endorse an often expensive range of beauty products, fashion items and leisure time activities. The big name influencers are paid thousands of dollars to push this stuff with the top echelon pulling in millions each year.
When the now notorious and ill-fated Fyre Festival began its marketing campaign in the US, it was well-known influencers who were paid thousands to promote the event as a must go destination. Their target audience was the cashed-up millennials and they fell for the hype, hook line and sinker.
You would hope that anybody with a discerning, independent and even mildly cynical head on their shoulders would reject this kind of manipulation. But we know that’s not the case and it’s largely why a lot of consumer advertising works in the first place. It appeals to a range of human motivations like vanity, inclusion and self-importance. Well detached from reason and sober analysis.
For many years it’s been the Hollywood stars or sporting heroes who have given their mark of approval to a range of products in TV and magazine advertising. Some are even anointed as brand ambassadors and most are paid plentifully for their allegiance. But for the tech-savvy millennials, it’s their Instagram gurus they look to as to what brand of overpriced moisturiser they should be luxuriating in or whether to book their very own cabana at Fyre Festival.
Today the influencers are everywhere, from Kendall Jenner to PewDiePie and the Try Guys. If you were born before 1980 chances are you have never heard of these people or are smart enough to treat them with the disdain they deserve.
Get on a bus or train these days and the odds are just about everybody is glued to their smartphone. You would like to think the older folk are catching up on the latest world news, checking to see who is our new Federal Labor leader, whether Theresa May is still British PM or if Nigel Farage has been doused with another banana milkshake. You would hate to think that the younger folk are not all tuned to Instagram or Snapchat, slaves to some horrendous, product flogging influencer – but chances are many of them are.
Unfortunately, there’s no jab available to protect you from the influencer epidemic, if you consider yourself susceptible. Only common sense can prevail and a healthy contempt for the shallow, ultra-materialistic, narcissistic world that the influencers promote.