Why this story matters:
Job? Influencer. Capital? Personal connection to fans. "Influencers" are used to advertise products. On their blogs, websites or social media platforms, among travel reports, vegan recipes and fashion advice, one can spot more or less evident product placement labeled as, for example, "friendly cooperation":
Instead of targeting their customers directly, many companies now invest in influencers -- powerful go-betweens who are expected to make their brand’s message more believable. The message -- or should I rather say “ad” -- is not only published but also produced by influencers. This new business model is changing the world of marketing.
But it also poses multiple problems. Take labeling, for example. How clearly should we stress which posts are sponsored? Children, after all, do not understand the financial mechanism behind their Youtube idol's message.
What is more, who wants to be influenced? The term carries a rather derogatory load implying that fans can be manipulated into wanting or needing something.
With the rapid development of social media, we are continuously facing unprecedented dilemmas. It seems that new questions emerge much sooner than we manage to answer the old ones.
Details from the story:
- Influencer marketing has developed into a separate branch of business in Austria. Last year, a professional platform for companies and influencers was established in Vienna, together with the agency Influence Vision, which specializes in micro-influencers.
- According to Nadja Enke and Nils Borchers, who conduct research on social media marketing at the University of Leipzig, the term “influencer” implies manipulation.
- "The whole industry is discussing labeling," Branko Markovic, Managing Director of Influence Vision, claims. “The tools are now available and paid content can be clearly labeled on social media platforms such as Instagram."
- Nadja Enke, on the other hand, is not sure if today's labeling is enough. Findings from her study led her to believe that: "the ability to recognize advertising must be taught to children and adolescents."