While catching up on some of my favorite channels on YouTube this morning, a thought crossed my mind. There they sat, in front of bright lights and an expensive camera setup, talking about products that they love- and even some that they hate. Comments piled up below with compliments, suggestions, and many people saying “I have to have this now!” or “If (insert said Youtuber) says she loves it, I have to buy it.” These YouTubers obviously had a strong influence on their followers and their purchases.
Next, I navigated to Instagram. As I scrolled past pictures of smiling best friends and dogs, I came across several pictures with trendy products strategically placed and a raving review in the description using #ad #insertbrandnamehere. The pictures not only had significant amounts of likes, but hundreds of comments from viewers admiring the products.
This sparked my thoughts. Social media is one of the fastest growing forms of emerging media and as companies scramble to adjust to the rapid growth, a shift in power is happening. Consumers will ignore the advertisement that comes before their YouTube video or that pops up on their Twitter/ Instagram feed, but they will listen and react to the opinion of a social media “influencer.” Due to this shift, companies are now offering social media influencers money or products in return for a YouTube video or Instagram post featuring their products, placing the power in the hands of the consumers. Consumers now can choose what they watch and whose opinion they choose to listen to, directly influencing the purchases they make. I personally have fallen into this trend and purchased a product or discovered a new brand that I would not have otherwise because I saw it on YouTube or Instagram. For me, this new form of “advertising” is much more effective than the traditional forms of advertising, which some regard as annoying, repetitive, and untrustworthy. Using social media influencers to promote a brand or product is not only giving the product or brand positive feedback, but it is giving buyers the confidence and trust in their purchase because someone they are influenced by is using the product. This takes us directly back to the comments that I saw on the YouTube video this morning, claiming that they purchase products because of their favorite YouTuber.
It is undeniable that a shift in power has began to happen as the forms of emerging media grows. We are now faced with platforms that give the consumer the power to voice their opinion, choose who their purchases are influenced by, and to discover brands that they may not have otherwise. Social media is changing the ways that companies invest in advertising and forcing them to think more creatively and harness relationships with social media influencers, who, at the end of the day, are simply consumers themselves.