The game-changing influencers

This fast-moving vehicle has also changed the way the advertising market works, creating a huge threat for traditional media practitioners

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK

These days, it’s all about how many likes or views one can get from a posting on any of the social media platforms.

The higher the number is, the more chance you’ll get to be called an “influencer” — a title many would like to attain as it also spells, well, easy money.

While “influencer marketing” is not really a new concept as it has been lingering for over a century ago, it is now utilised aggressively via technology that allows people to be connected and informed immediately.

This fast-moving vehicle has also changed the way the advertising market works, creating a huge threat for traditional media practitioners.

The advertising market has truly been disrupted by the rise of social media influencers.

A recent report in The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) stated that influencer market value has expanded to between RM280.46 million and RM560.91 million locally.

The market is huge. As of April last year, Instagram had an estimated 9.2 million users, while Facebook boasted 11.9 million Facebook users by the end of 2017.

Via platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, the influencers — mainly strong, and perhaps fashion- able individuals who are not afraid to express themselves through their comments (and pictures) — are considerably on the same plane as celebrities.

These days, more and more people are harbouring the hope that they too, one day, may live the glamorous “jet-setting lifestyle”, attending important events with sponsored products, and fat endorsement contracts.

Influencer — a Word Too Strong?

Social Media Influencer

Johanis says she is only a normal girl behind the content she has created for her followers to view

Social media influencer and Gushcloud intern Johanis Sani said the meaning of the word “influencer” is not too strong of a word for the occupation, but there is a need for the “chosen ones” to be cautious with what could be shared on the social media platforms.

“In my perspective, being an influencer is having someone click on my content.

“They don’t have to share my opinion about certain products, but the fact that I have made them view something of mine — whether it’s about a product or a cause is what makes one an influencer,” she told TMR in an interview recently.

Gushcloud Asia-Pacific talent manager Kenny Roland Ooi said some might not be too impressed with the word influencer.

Some perceive that influencers are people who have the skill to “brainwash” others.

“I think the word that I’d like to use for them is content creator. Essentially, they create the content first before their viewers are ever influenced,” he said.

Just a Normal Girl

Johanis said she is only a normal girl behind the content she has created for her followers to view.

“I still have to get up early to get to Gushcloud by 9am because I am an intern. I do campaign reports, attend meetings for other influencers and manage them while I’m still studying.

“Basically, the internship teaches me the other side of being an influencer — all the ‘good’ stuff Kenny wants to show me because I used to see him getting so stressed and did not under- stand why. Now I do,” she said.

Starting Point and Prospects

Quite a number of influencers gain their status from their previous occupations. Singer Elizabeth Tan, for instance, became an overnight sensation after a Hari Raya song she covered went viral via YouTube.

Social Media Influencer

Tan, for instance, became an overnight sensation after a Hari Raya song she covered went viral via YouTube (Source: Youtube)

Then there was this girl who went by the name King Coco, who became popular for the wrong reasons — her extremely bad English and horrible fake accent.

King Coco later appeared in various videos endorsing and promoting products and services.

Quite a number of television (TV) faces are also striving to be influencers that cater to different markets and demography.

Azwan Ali might have a different set of followers, while Lisa Surihani or Fazura could attract a wider demography.

These days, more TV faces are relying on social media to keep them afloat and still be relevant.

Social Media Influencer

King Coco appeared in various videos endorsing and promoting products and services (Source: Youtube)

Not all, however, are suitable to be bestowed the “influencer” status.

In Johanis’ case, she did not expect her submission on the Vine app, which is no longer running, to become viral and receive so many clicks.

After regularly posting inside jokes for her family’s viewing on YouTube, she was transformed from just an ordinary user into an influencer.

The local influencer has hit the goal followers count on YouTube and that prompted her to launch her own makeup brush set. She is now set to post more of her singing on her social media accounts.

“For this year, my goal is to post and do more music-related content. I used to be sceptical and unsure about it, but people have encouraged me, so that’s something for me to do,” she said.

She has various types of content on her various social media accounts, such as video-blogs (vlogs) on her YouTube account, photographs of her promoting various products and makeup tutorials on Instagram, with a smidgen of personal posts for her friends.

Aspiring Influencers

Johanis said with the rise of more influencers, the most important thing about becoming one is to understand its consequences and difficulties despite the temptations the occupation offers.

“Part of the difficulties in becoming one is the fact that you need to believe in what you are posting because there will be people who want to nitpick on your posts,” she said.

The princess to the public herself does not believe in posting for likes.

“Usually, if you think too much about it, it’s not going to work. If you really have a heart for creating something, it will be genuine and people will like that more,” she said.

To aspiring influencers, Johanis said the occupation is not as easy as by just posting pictures on their social media accounts.

“Of course, there will be some other jobs that require people hating you, but if you are sensitive and not ‘muka tebal’ enough, being an influencer is not the job for you!

“For starters, you have to make sure that posting your content makes you happy and is something that you enjoy,” she said.

She added that aspiring influencers should also educate themselves and learn more about whatever that they want to post.

“If you want to post makeup tutorials, you’re going to have to learn everything about makeup, from the basics to developing your style.

“If you do make it, don’t forget to stay grounded and support other influencers too,” she said.

Ooi said there are three top essentials for influencers, whether they are aspiring or already established.

“Number one is to have a thick skin. Then you need a good support system such as friends and family who encourage you and not put you down, followed by consistency in your opinion and content,” he said.