Paying a Price for Friendly Persuasion

Her name is Victoria. Victoria is physically fit, sports brown hair, lives an active lifestyle, and is popular on Instagram. You’ve never met but you feel some sort of connection with Victoria, given she’s from your hometown. Victoria is a fitness model and highly viewed on Instagram. She even promotes a healthy lifestyle and small local businesses on her personal profile. You can find her on Instagram at @lapesi.

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Victoria is a social media influencer. She is getting paid and sponsored by brands to promote their products on her personal social media sites. Why? Consumers now look to “regular people” for advice on what products to buy. Social media influencers have become such a huge hit in the last couple years and the trend continues to grow. These influencers appear as authentic, one-of-us audience members.  Companies are selling to people, through people.

A scholarly article, Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality, discusses the interest public relations takes in these personas and dives deeply into finding out what makes them so successful.

“Social media influencers (SMIs) represent a new type of independent third party endorser who shape audience attitudes through blogs, tweets, and the use of other social media. A mature public relations literature has identified the characteristics of effective spokespersons, but relatively little is known about audience perceptions of the SMI.”

We must ask ourselves the important questions as consumers and possibly lovers of social media and their influencers.

  • Are these people posting about products because they love them or for the money? Possibly both?
  • Why do I relate so much with this online persona? Are they real?

From an online article, How Social Media is Shaping the Future of Public Relations, the author talks about traditional PR and how it is influenced along with data.

“By nature, social media platforms lend themselves well to data analytics. Not only do most platforms come with their own analytical tools, such as Twitter Analytics and Facebook Analytics, but there is also a wide range of third-party tools available such as Sproutsocial and Hootsuite. These are ideal for monitoring progress. The analytic-friendly nature of social media will translate across to PR. It will become even more data driven, as PRs use data analytics to inform future campaigns and improve current ones.”

As many more influencers come into light, social media will evolve as well as public relations. It’s important practitioners recognize this change and act on the possibilities they bring. How do you feel about these influencers? Do you have a favorite? Someone you can relate to … beyond the computer screen?

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