Since inception, the business of being an ‘influencer’ has been in a state of flux.
Previously, we touched on corporate social media accounts, and how their modus operandi and that of an influencer has grown in similarity.
It would be fair to say that we are undergoing broader commercialisation of social media accounts, where a bit of business acumen can convert a following to cash.
There are some intriguing questions on the robustness of influencing as a business model (and career), and how individual accounts could cope with some very likely changes on the internet.
Social Media Platforms Don’t Last Forever
Social media platforms are in a stable place, but the next Mark Zuckerberg will be sat at their laptop, ready to upheave the status quo, which will have a huge impact on a lot of internet-based business models.
Every so often there are astounding changes in platforms. You’ll have as much success explaining Myspace to a 13-year-old as you would explaining TikTok to a 25-year-old.
The current monopolies on social media are strong but won’t last forever and it could be hard for an influencer to transition from one platform to another.
The Ultimate Goal is Transforming
An influencer’s ability to adapt to big changes depends on the fluidity of their business model.
These days being an influencer is an end in itself, but in the future becoming an influencer is very likely to become a means to an end. This end could be anything from starting a clothing line, becoming a model, or even trying to break out in traditional media.
This is being driven by an oversaturation of the number of influencers on a finite number of platforms and a change in attitudes to the typical methods of making money as an influencer – paid promotion.
A Saturated Market Lacks Promise
Some of the bigger influencers have already done this.
One influencer (who coincidently is already a model) was sued for failure to influence! What’s more, he spoke down on the practice and distanced himself from it.
The business model of paid promotion is under threat because it can directly undermine their ultimate goal – to have a greater following.
The reason for this is first that it has fallen out of favour with major celebrities, coupled with over-saturation of the market. There is a growing view that paid promotion cheapens their brand, which means influencers will look to other ways of making money from their following.
It’s easy for quasi-celebrities to look down on the market that made them because regular people can make money from paid promotion ‘micro-influencing’ to very specific audiences.
There’s a growing trend of people (usually high school aged kids) pretending that they have brand partnerships by promoting companies on their social media, in an attempt to appear as an influencer.
What Does the Future Hold?
As always, the internet will move on, and it’s worth remembering that being an influencer has only really existed for five years.
As a business model, it will undergo some changes – whether the influencers of today will adapt or disappear remains to be seen.