Summertime is coming to a close and with it is the dilution of everything Love Island-related, its contestants peak in popularity during the airing of the hit series but once the show ends and the popularity fades, so do the contestants’ careers and they end up clinging to anything that keeps them relevant, often that means becoming an influencer. 

Now we’re 5 seasons down, though, are the influencers still influencing? Or have the general public become aloof to the endless string of endorsements? 

How did it start? 

Celebrity endorsement has been around since the dawn of TV, once occupied by A-lister film stars mainly flogging cigarettes, throughout the years, however, the market has changed and endorsements are now purely notarised by reality stars or as they like to be called ‘influencers’. 

In the early years of the millennia, Big Brother stars were the new faces of campaigns and leading household products could not wait to throw their money at these newfound famous faces. And it worked, products flew off the shelves - consumers saw similarities with these once normal members of the public and wanted to be like them. 

Reality TV blew up from here, with channels birthing shows like The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore and Made in Chelsea, which were then complemented by the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram. These shows, albeit quite heavily scripted, had characters which appeared normal who were active on every social media platform, giving them a mass of young followers who aspired to be like them and achieve what they have achieved. And what better way to be like your idol, than to use the products they use? - this led to a new breed of individuals aptly called the ‘influencer’. 

What is influencer marketing? 

Influencer marketing is an advertising tool which uses personalities to sell a product or service. It is a visual form of marketing, often found on Instagram, using product placement to drive organic conversation and engagement around a brand’s products and service.

Although I’ve mentioned reality TV stars as influencers, you don’t have to be on TV to be an influencer. Anyone can become one, an influencer is a social media user that can have anywhere from a few thousand to a few million followers. There are many reasons why influencer’s gain the followers initially, but the usual suspects is the user’s appearance, their associations or indeed their involvement on TV. They are a savvy bunch, with their fingers on the digital pulse of a highly-engaged and captive following.

What does the future hold?

Many influencers have come under fire recently for promoting diet and detox products to their impressionable followers, which lead to a backlash from body positivity activists. Not only that, but a large number of influencers were promoting items that weren’t certified by accredited bodies. With growing speculation around clickbait and fake news, it could only be a matter of time before consumers stop trusting influencer reviews, product placements and advice. 

Instead, more genuine looking sponsored posts, by lesser-known influencers (with 5,000 – 100,000 followers) are becoming more and more popular for brands to join forces with.

These influencers have more communication with their followers, have greater authenticity, a more targeted audience and are more likely to associate with smaller brands, whilst charging less to successfully drive sales and engagement rates. 

Influencers that create memorable and meaningful posts are more likely to be used and the simple product placement ads are likely to fade. It is these influencers that have the opportunity to garner the benefits for brands for a somewhat low cost, and have had a big impact on the marketing industry. 

Who knows what the future holds for the influencer? What can be said, is they’re not likely to disappear any time soon.