The Changed Meaning of Influencing
Updated: Sep 24
Flashback to 2010, this new app just launched. It was called ‘Instagram’ and we had to upload pictures on it and follow people. You could either make your profile ‘private’ or have random people following you. Now despite this being a regular normal feature at that point, it played a humongous role in people’s careers later. Those who utilized the platform to build a community have now created a base of loyal following.
They are now known as what we call ‘Influencers’. They have created their base of followers and they create content related to a topic.
But let's get to the real point of this topic, and go into the depth of influencers and influencing. What is the meaning of influencers? Google defines influencers as “A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.”
To think about it, we watch someone use a product and are ‘influenced’ to buy it. But why? And how does this work?
This concept has long been used in advertisements where celebrities were promoting products regardless of whether they actually use it or not. They are doing it because they are getting paid for it, so when you think about it we are actually buying something because someone we idolize uses it but guess what? They do not.
That precisely is the problem with today's influencers and the whole influencing concept. We follow the personalities that we like and they are being ‘paid’ to promote these products. A lot of influencers claim that they only promote the products they use but how true is this?
If someone offered you 50000 rupees tomorrow to post a video on Instagram, how likely are you to refuse it for the reason that you do not use it in your daily life? Probably a very minimal possibility.
Now I am not saying that ALL influencers are prone to doing this, there are some who genuinely 'influence' people into following a healthy lifestyle, to meditate, to change their habits, to work towards their side passion and there are hundreds of accounts just aiming to do that but they do need some sort of remuneration to run their account, their team and their company and where does this come from? Collaborations, tie-ups, promoting products for a certain amount.
The changed meaning of influencing is the reason for the lost interest of thousands of people in this platform, we do not believe and trust that anyone promoting anything is remotely interested in the product. We idolize them for their content but become blind to their beliefs. We support them by sharing but do not second guess their intentions.
We need to be more aware and we need to be more cautious of who we allow to influence us. There is a very blurry line between being real and the reality on Instagram. More photos are face tuned and photoshopped than we know, more people have filters and apps making them look the way they do.
I am prey to this and so are you. But the key is - awareness.