Opinions on Instagram can be easily bought, so be careful who you believe.
Influence is a strange beast. It’s something we used to wield wisely, and with caution. Now ‘influencer’ is a name given to “Ya boi Pete”, who reminds you to “like and subscribe”. The nature of who has influence and, more importantly, what it’s worth, has changed.
As a journalist who covers video games and consumer tech, I’ve seen firsthand how parts of the industry are moving away from giving journalists games early for review, and are instead opting to pay influencers for favourable opinions. It’s certainly not all PR or games companies, and it’s perhaps not all popular influencers. But it’s enough to be concerning.And it’s not just games and tech that are going this way, but pretty much everything you can buy. In a recent Salmat marketing survey, 5 per cent of Australians said they used endorsements from influencers/celebrity ambassadors when making purchase decisions.
If someone is making money from YouTube or Instagram, it’s not coming from the ads you’re skipping. Companies pay them to convince you to buy stuff. While millennials and Gen Z-ers are largely immune to ads, it’s easy to develop trust for these people. We’re part of a community together, right?
What we so often forget is that, if you’re not paying for a product or service you enjoy, your viewership or data is what’s getting sold.But what surprised me recently was how easily some PR folks think people can be bought, and, even more shocking, how right they are.