WHO ARE THE INFLUENCERS? CAN YOU BE ONE TOO? by Kim Coston

WHO ARE THE INFLUENCERS? CAN YOU BE ONE TOO?

Outlandishly dressed poseurs, both male and female, show off for the cameras outside international fashion shows. Some are fashion models and editors. Some are bloggers. Most take cash+luxury loot in exchange for this service. All of them are Influencers.


Become an Influencer
Fashion and beauty brands are out there just waiting for you! If you have substantial followers who follow your recommendations, you can promote the brands’ products into sales dollars by snapchatting, tweeting, blogging or instagramming about them.

For example, last year 29-year-old Arielle Charnas posted a Snapchat story on her blog mentioning Peter Thomas Roth Stem Cell repair mask. Within 24 hours, PTR sold 502 masks equaling $17,565. That’s $123,000/weekly, $527,000/monthly, and almost $6.4 million/annually.

Specialized strategic social media agencies recruit influencers who hold sway with their networks of friends and associates. Here are a few of the more interesting discovery apps that not only help brands find the right influencers, they allow influencers to share their voice:

Mavrck
Mega-clients like P&G (Proctor & Gamble) use this service to measure influencers’ power of persuasion with peers, convincing them to use products, incentives, coupons or promo codes and calculate return-on-investment (ROI).

Tribe
Contracts influencers having 3,000+ Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter followers and/or “tribes” of other influencers that they share content with to help brands find-train influencers to create communication campaigns and engage new target consumers.

Instabrand
Contracts influencers with 100-500,000 followers for clients like Fiat, Dolce & Gabbana, Samsung and L’Oréal. This mobile platform works across social apps, and tracks not only ROI, but reach, levels of engagement and number of views.

Takumi Differentiation Factor
This group says: “By letting creators pick campaigns, we deliver the whole picture as a service, instead of simply providing database of influencers, we do the work.”

Snapchat, Ghostcodes, Famrbit and Trive are all doing it.

The Role of Influencers In Modern Society
Though beauty and fashion magazines and their editors are still powerful, their role as “visual and cultural arbiters” is crowdsourcing.

Historically looked down upon as untrained imposters and hacks, bloggers now have power. As big brands switch dollars from ad budgets to Social Media, they are paying influencers who voice their opinions 6-digit salaries.

Case in point; Coty, owner of many prestigious designer fragrance licenses held a press launch for Marc Jacobs’ Divine Decadence, in LA last year. Coty flew in international influencers to create buzz and build intense demand just before in-stores launches.

One of the first to recognize blogger-power in 2008, Jacobs baptized his handbag “Bryanboy,” launching the Philippine blogger’s career, and sparking a chain of non-stop gifting.

Wait a minute. What about journalistic integrity, when editors wrote about brands that stood out as exceptional? Trying to influence journalists is like trying to bribe customs or the police, ethically and legally incorrect and yes, there is a formal code of ethics since 1909,* including things like the simple truth.

Besides, the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics* says NO! to all forms of gifts and those valued at $25+are taxable income when offered to employees, thus taboo!

Many don’t follow these rules. The higher Instagram follower count, the harder it is for a blogger to attain the coveted “high engagement” factor that big corporate sponsors want.

If you’ve got the Social Media power, go for it. That’s a lot of money. But we urge you to think about what’s ethical.

Just a few points in the SPJ code that relate to this story:

Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.

Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.

Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.

Information
Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics
Fast Company Magaine

Books
Available at amazon.com. Click on title for more information.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants
by Malcolm Gladwell


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