Today, social networks have become an essential source of information, entertainment and advertising for millions of people around the world. With the advent of social media, new actors have emerged, the “influencers”, who have managed to transform their online presence into a real business. These individuals have gained notoriety thanks to their ability to communicate with their audience and offer them personalized content, often based on their daily life, their interests or their opinions.
But who are these influencers really? What makes them successful and how does their influence on their audience work?
Influencers are generally people who have managed to build a large community of followers on social networks, especially on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter. Often the result of a long work of new trends on their audiences, they regularly share content that interests their audience, such as fashion tips, cooking recipes, product reviews, travel, or opinions on various topics. Influencers have therefore managed to develop a loyal audience, often composed of people who share similar interests.
Brands have quickly understood the marketing potential of these influencers. Indeed, they are able to influence their audience in their purchasing decisions, by recommending products or by presenting them in an attractive way. Brands can then pay influencers to promote their products or to sponsor them in their publications, thus offering them a new source of income.
Factors and dangers of this influence not yet controlled
The influence of influencers on their audience is undeniable, but it can be difficult to measure. Studies have shown that followers of influencers tend to give great importance to their recommendations, often considering them as experts in their field. However, the direct effect of influencers’ recommendations on their audience’s purchasing decisions is not always clear, as other factors, such as the opinions of friends and family, may also play a role.
It’s also important to note that influencers have a great responsibility to their audience, especially younger ones, who may be more likely to follow their recommendations without question. Influencers need to be aware of their impact and ensure that their recommendations are honest and fact-based, to avoid misleading their audience.
So this focus on the limelight can sometimes be dangerous, as there is no control over the power and scope and consequences of everything said and done. Without being the first will of what can be called an influencer, this influence can easily turn into manipulation and this is a risk that must be avoided to go against the virtue of others. As much as it is normal, acceptable and moral to be persuaded by demonstration, by the analysis of arguments, by the central way (Petty and Cacioppo 1986) or by the systematic way (Eagly and Chaiken 1993), the second way of persuasion (distinguished by Blaise Pascal, On ne va à Dieu que par le cœur), the one that leads the mind without it having been convinced beforehand, arouses all fears.
influencers have become a major player in the social network economy. Their influence on their audience can be important, but it must be used with caution and responsibility. Brands and companies must also consider the risks of working with influencers and ensure that partnerships are transparent and ethical. In this influence there are important questions around the possession and freedom of each individual convinced beforehand by the activity of the influencer. It is thus more difficult to question what is being said.
In order to begin to frame this profession, a law proposal is being debated to standardize the influence agencies and to avoid any scam and drift. Since March 30, 2023, a bill has been proposed and readings and modifications are underway in order to adopt this law that will frame the status of influencer.