Marketing on social media is becoming more and more consumer-centric.
Ever since platforms like Facebook, Capsure, and Instagram existed, users have enjoyed various benefits from connecting with people who had similar interests, and pals from a previous existence to staying up-to-date with the latest news.
An influx of influencers
Influencers emerged as we know them today, becoming significant players of marketing in the social space. Marketers rushed to exploit the influence of these social media super users in an attempt to increase their brand’s awareness and boost their revenues.
Money was pumped into an industry that later became known as influencer marketing.
Billions of dollars have been spent on influencer marketing campaigns. Influencers with a considerable following have made a fortune off this industry. Funny enough, we recently heard that Kylie Jenner, whose estimated price-per-post is around $1Million, became the youngest “self-made” billionaire, who essentially achieved a significant part of her wealth through influencer marketing.
The reality is that when influencers promote products or services to their followers, they are sharing profits with businesses in marketing campaigns. In many instances, some influencers promote products just for the sake of making money even if they don’t genuinely believe in the benefits the products provide.
The question that people are asking today is whether such marketing models are fair or not. In some way or another, the influencers’ audiences might be feeling that they are being taken advantage of. After all, the reality is that influencers profit from their audience’s following and this is now becoming a threat to this cherished relationship.
Whether or not it is ethical for influencers to profit from their following is up to their audiences to decide. However, there is a notable spike in awareness with regards to influencer marketing, which is causing the masses to start believing that this once-cherished influencer-follower relationship has not been really based on authenticity.
On the influencer’s part, this increased awareness is enforcing more sense of responsibility for the influencers to be obliged to take ownership as to what they would recommend their followers to buy or do.
This has put forward a new notion in the marketing space which is becoming to be known as “fair social media”. This uprising movement is demanding that everyone should be treated as an influencer regardless of their number of following.
A profit sharing model is at the core of this concept. Profit is distributed proportionally around every user who is playing a role in influencing the people in their social network to take action, buy a product or a service.
When all users are treated as “influencers,” marketers are giving incentive to almost all their customers to potentially become advocates of their brand in alignment with the profiles and interests of their followers. Whether having 500 followers or 10,000 followers on Instagram, you can still have enough influence to motivate your followers to take action.
In fact, it might even be more effective. We conducted a study to find out the correlation between influence and the number of followers and unsurprisingly our findings suggested that the lower the number of followers you have the more influence you will have on them.
Putting this into context, it makes sense that when your best friends see you recommending a product, they might be more inclined to take your recommendation. That way, marketers can create a movement through ordinary users, incentivised through a fair profit sharing model.
Through the application of this model, some argue that influencer marketing will become more genuine and only the best products and services survive. The reason is because it creates some sort of collective consensus and a greater sense of responsibility in each person’s social network when making a recommendation. If we were to see this model coming into action, chances are we see inferior products and services going out of business.
Acting as an influencer, even with only 500 followers, you will only recommend what you genuinely think is the best to your friends and family and therefore, on mass scale, only the best products and services will thrive.
This model may be seen as a challenge by some industry players like influencer and digital marketing agencies, and big social media firms.
Influencer and digital marketing agencies will be forced to change their strategies to influencer marketing to fit a fair social media marketing model. They will have no choice but to keep up with such momentous changes in the industry.
Fair social media
Fair social media marketing might also threaten to undermine targeted ads. Social media firms like Facebook, will have to adopt this model and incorporate it in their platforms , giving each individual user an opportunity to act as a “business” by recommending products and services to the people in their social networks. People will be able to monetize their social media accounts and enjoy a new source of income.
Apps like MNFST are emerging into the industry to make the fair social media model a reality. Although such apps will most likely be combated by big firms, it is inevitable to prevent the masses from demanding a change that can restructure the whole marketing industry as we know it today.
The questions that we need to ask ourselves is how can we democratize social media marketing and instead of making it a reward place system for the few, how can we make it a new source of income for the masses to benefit from.
Although fair social media can be detrimental to various players in the digital marketing space, it is a window of opportunity to a new form of marketing that is more authentic, more consumer-centric, and a greater future for our struggling economies.