I subscribe to a few tech-related newsletters, and I found this interesting article discussing Instagram “influencers” and sponsored content in one of them:

Someone once said something to the effect of, if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product. YouTube, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter… social apps are free because they shove advertisements a.k.a. “sponsored content” into our faces. All. The. Time. (And selling our data, of course)

I notice YouTube stops a video in the middle to intersperse an ad. Really, YouTube? Every second post on my Facebook feed is “sponsored content”, drowning out posts from my actual friends, and so on. The joke is, of course, that I’ve become blind to all these ads. I scroll past them without registering. I am the worst influencee in the world, LOL.

Software isn’t eating the world, advertising is. And they are looking at more and more ways and platforms to show you more sponsored content. You can become a professional YouTuber if you have enough followers and views. Instagram has seen the rise of the “micro-influencer”, Instagrammers with followers numbering in the thousands, who get small sponsorships from brands.

In the article, it discusses how wannabe-influencers create fake sponsored content in order to attract real sponsors. This was to showcase their marketing ability and get the first deal, and also having sponsorships gives you “influencer cred”. It’s apparently become so pervasive, Instagrammers cant tell real sponsored content from fake sponsored content anymore. (For me, I’d ask who cares? Because I am certainly not interested in your sponsored content).

One brand was upset that the influencer he chose had only posted fake content, and now cross-checks everyone to see whether they’re real. Another brand was upset by the mediocre content that was faked, but had no way to address it without aggravating the influencer(s). An has-been influencer was upset because all these wannabes were driving down the value of sponsorships by doing it for little or for free.

One influencer talks about how teenagers are influenced by influencers: they see these influencers on Instagram, and want to become influencers themselves.

Money for nothing and your products for free.

It seems to me like a snake swallowing its own tail. If everyone is marketing to everyone else, who will be the consumer?

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Author: Ri

Biker, musician and coder. Enjoy writing about my travels. Also started to write an app, thought I'd blog about it.

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