Last week, I participated in various activities organized in the framework of the Semaine du Numérique in the wonderful City of Quebec. I made a presentation at the International Webinar from the Observatoire des medias sociaux en relations publiques (OMSRP), from Université Laval in Quebec City, and I covered the 5th edition of the trade event ¨Web à Quebec 2016¨ (WAQ), for Isarta Infos.
The notion of ¨influenceratis¨ and the illusion of majority
In my own Webinar presentation, I relied on several studies (Augure, Edelman) and some enterprise examples, to create a current picture of relationships with influencers, and raise challenges for leaders. I specifically made mention of the emergence of new ¨influenceratis¨ of social media, which have become the new “celebrities” on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.
The term influenceratis raised many eyebrows as well as a lot of questions at the end of my presentation. This is a new terminology was used by Kristina Lerman and her team at the University of Southern California in a study that was publicized at MIT Technology Review: The Social Network That Illusion Tricks Your Mind.
These University researchers demonstrated the illusion of the majority where viral content spreads through social networks by studying the social behavior of large communities where individuals often mimic the decisions and choices of others. This explains how insider content broadcasted by ¨influenceratis¨ on new platforms go viral so quickly. Followers are eager to immediately relay content, and for a time, it seems that everyone speaks in where the majority of the community illusion created with amplification ¨ Buzz¨ in the network. However, once viral in the community the message quickly falls into oblivion, and the followers immediately switch to other content.
Of all the conferences I’ve attended, there are 2 that have specifically questioned me. They were led by 2 young new gurus under thirty, and their presentations dealt with the concept of influence and personal branding in social media.
A new generation of young centered egocasting marketers
Today, with the accessibility to technology and distribution of content, any user can create a niche and quickly gather a large community of followers and in turn become a ¨influencerati ¨. In all ages of social network user, this relatively new phenomenon can be found – but more so in users less than 30. These young Y and Z generations are called the selfie generation and are into egocasting.
Most of these new influencers swear by platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. And for them, Twitter is a ¨cocktail party¨ where you can join a conversation and pick up new followers. While Facebook is nothing less than a platform for re-broadcast videos. They have no ethical problem with endorsing a sponsored product as advertising to their fans. Being a ¨influencerati¨ and getting access to their network is worth the paid sponsorship.
Image sharing platforms and video are popular among younger users and they find young influencers just like them. On these new popular platforms, each egocasting marketer is trying to stand out and become a star. With selfies, foodies, and video chat, these new niche bloggers (fashion, lifestyle, food, travel, family, etc.) have literally flooded social networking with content and comments. They don’t hesitate to give their opinion on everything to make sure they are part of the action and don’t miss anything (FOMO). They engage in Slacktivism on community social networks to show others that they are good, and Egocasting mirrors their personality.
The limited impact of relationships with celebrities and ¨influenceratis¨
In this context, the real impact of muses and ¨influenceratis¨ is that they act as a door – sponsored articles are limited in their duration. Of course, when the main purpose of a marketing campaign is simply to increase reach (for example, for the launch of a new product) they can be very profitable. To sell a product or service to consumers, the involvement of celebrities and stars of these new niches enables brands and organizations to quickly recoup their investment in social networks. But it’s purely commercial, and scope will be short.
However, if the purpose of an influential marketing campaign in social media is to increase awareness and credibility of a brand, develop a market for an innovative new concept, or simply retain clients, it’ll require a different type of intervention. In this case, the stars and ¨influenceratis¨ won’t bring good results. So we turn to spontaneous ambassadors, found among staff, satisfied customers, and thought leaders who have real influence in their community.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and comments about the new phenomenon of ¨influenceratis¨ and the role of celebrities in influence marketing campaigns in social media.