Why digital influencers seem disconnected from reality

Observing some icons of digital influence in Brazil became an invitation to amazement. Infamous credit card bills exposed, unusual tattoos on even more surprising body parts, happy families in photos while owing millions in taxes, fitness influencer married to pagodeiro evicted for late rent.

Actors who have been at Globo at some point and who now shoot nonsense on social media are a separate category in the hall of influence, as are former dancers and stage assistants on TV shows, possibly surpassed only by former participants. of reality shows.

In common, in addition to many followers on Instagram, this group accumulates controversies. Recently, Gabi Brandt, 26, revealed in a live on social networks that the bill for the month of June was R$ 377 thousand. Later, the influencer explained that she doesn’t spend it every month. It was not an isolated case, other influencers did the same. As columnist Fefito highlighted, influencers seem increasingly detached from reality.

Influencers are a slap in the face to Brazilians who are already so tired of being beaten. But this lack of sensitivity, and especially empathy, is just a symptom of a bigger problem.

Influencers are becoming irrelevant

The traditional digital influence, in which the simple fact of a person having thousands of connections on a social network was enough to close contracts and earn thousands of reais, is in crisis.

TikTok has left the world of influence down in the air. If on Instagram it was the famous and sub-celebrities that reigned, on TikTok the highlight goes to the content produced by millions of anonymous people.

We left the era of connections and entered the era of interests. More and more people consume the topics that interest them and less the content that the people they are connected to publish. As marketer and influencer Gary Vee said, TikTok is successful because it opted for an interest graph and not a social graph like social media before the Chinese social network exploded.

User engagement on Instagram has dropped across the board. Overall app engagement has declined by about 44% since 2019, according to a new study by social media company Later, which analyzed approximately 81 million Instagram posts made between January 2019 and February 2022.

The drop in engagement increased when Instagram launched Reels in August 2020. The short-form video feature was intended to help Meta (which owns Instagram and Facebook) compete with TikTok. Last week, Instagram announced changes to speed up this process. But the day after Instagram announced the news, influencers Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, who together have 686 million followers on the platform, launched a campaign against the change.

The sisters shared a message saying “Make Instagram Instagram Again”, complaining that Zuckerberg’s network was “trying to be TikTok” instead of focusing on photo sharing.

For the sisters, who are nowhere near the same relevance on TikTok, an algorithm of interests and not related to the number of followers implies a considerable decrease in relevance.

TikTok and the Influence of Anonymous

Instagram’s move is a response to the flight of users and advertisers who are migrating to TikTok. Just a day after the change was announced and following negative feedback from many users, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri posted a mea culpa on his Twitter profile acknowledging that the platform switch to video was “still not good”.

But the executive highlighted that the changes were a response to the new way people consume content on social networks. Mosseri stated that the company will “continue to support photos”, but noted that he believes “more and more Instagram will become video”, regardless of whether the company proactively moves in that direction.

“If you look at what people share on Instagram, that’s shifting more and more to video over time,” he said. “If you look at what people like, consume and view on Instagram, that’s also shifting more and more to video over time, even when we stop changing something. So we’re going to have to lean on that shift.”

That is, the success of TikTok is forcing all social networks to copy it. And this formula puts great influencers like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian in the background. In Brazil it is no different.

TikTok has revolutionized the way we consume content, but also the way content is produced. And a lot of what’s on Instagram doesn’t work on TikTok and won’t work on the new version of Instagram.

As a report by Danica Lo, at Fast Company, points out, “the golden age of digital influencers seems to be over. generated by the user (UGC)”.

Appeal to get attention?

Influencers haven’t lost track, they’re desperate. What worked until recently has been less and less effective in generating engagement and views on social media. The alternative increasingly becomes appealing to the absurd.

You can argue that influencers are rich, but keep in mind that this crowd has also gotten used to living spending lots of money. Less profile reach means less money in the account. If it’s a problem for us anonymous people, it’s even worse for influencers.

Nabbesque parties and ostentation shows with luxury items have become part of the formula to attract the curious on the networks. A ridiculous boot or torn brand t-shirt bought for thousands of reais guaranteed the influencer calls from entertainment sites to attract more followers. Outraged comments were the most effective at generating engagement. Now, on TikTok, no one reads comments.

The formula has become so worn out that the ostentation has to become more and more shocking in order to work, which obviously leads to exaggeration. And being in the media is increasingly important to compensate for the drop in reach within the platform itself.

It is also worth noting that for a portion of influencers who have invested in the creation of products and brands, or in fact deliver something of value and that goes beyond notoriety due to the fact that they have many followers, life goes on with a smaller, but still loyal, audience.

The network dilemma

The numbers show the size of the problem. Instagram is not an isolated case. YouTube had its worst ad revenue result since the company began reporting these numbers in 2019. Revenue rose just 4.8% year-on-year to $7.34 billion, analysts estimate was that reach US$ 7.52 billion.

A year ago, YouTube revenue jumped 84%, and the only previous quarter that saw single-digit growth was the second period of 2020, when sales increased by just 5.8% as marketers paused spending on first weeks of the pandemic.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said in announcing the results that uncertainties in the economy were impacting advertisers’ investments on the platform. But Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president, said earlier this month that studies by the company showed that nearly 40% of young people were increasingly turning to TikTok or Instagram for research. A problem for Google, which in addition to YouTube ads, monetizes advertising on maps and searches. To counter TikTok, Google launched YouTube Shorts, its version of social networking videos similar to TikTok.

Twitter, which had a loss of R$ 1.5 billion in the last quarter and also saw its revenue fall and will cut costs and close offices around the world.

What happens when everyone is an influencer

Even though it is not a regulated profession, according to a survey by the research firm Nielsen, Brazil has more than 500,000 digital influencers. More than trained dentists (374 thousand) and civil engineers (455 thousand). The contingent of influencers ties with the number of doctors, which reaches 502,000.

There is nothing to indicate that this is likely to diminish as TikTok turns everyone into an influencer. And when we’re all influencers, no one is influential enough to justify the advertisers’ investment or time liking that person.

The war for attention has become even more challenging for content creators. In the sea of ​​information that we are constantly bombarded with, a 26-year-old girl paying a R$377,000 credit card bill in a polarized country with a large part of the population below the poverty line draws attention.

Arthur Picoli, when saying he was shocked by the bills exposed by other personalities, showed his bill of only R$85.18. Otherwise, he used the same artifice as his colleagues. After all, who imagines the former BBB spending just that on the card?

In the same way that many heartthrobs from Malhação earned thousands of reais at proms and attending events only to be forced to turn around when fashion passed, something similar must happen with digital influencers.

The best will reinvent themselves and stay relevant, but much of it will just become a forgotten, picturesque image of the digital past. But before that, many will rely on increasingly embarrassing situations to try to get attention and “close the accounts”, since they are famous only for the fact that they have many followers driven by mere curiosity.

About Hrishikesh Bhardwaj

Tv specialist. Falls down a lot. Typical troublemaker. Hipster-friendly advocate. Food fan.

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