Goodbye Newspaper, Hello Influencers: People Are Increasingly Turning To Online Creators For News & Opinions
With the rise of online news sites and blogs, television news is fighting an uphill battle to attract new viewers. More than 60% of Americans find TV content biased, which explains the loss of interest in television news.
In a recent study, Politifact found that almost half of the television statements were only partially true or, in some instances, entirely false. So it’s not surprising why teens prefer using social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube for everything under the sun, be it for their entertainment, their product advice, and even their news.
To understand the power of social media influencers on their followers, take Charli D’Amelio as an example. Her TikTok profile has over 111M followers, and P&G hired her to spread awareness about social distancing with the hashtag #DistanceDance. Her campaign video reached 190 million views and influenced more than 3 million users on TikTok to make similar videos.
Social Media Has Evolved
Social media is more than just entertainment. Barack Obama used Facebook to propel his 2008 campaign, and Donald Trump frequently used Twitter to engage his followers (before his account was permanently suspended back in January). As a platform for politics, social media has become increasingly relevant in the political sphere, allowing elected officials to reach entire nations at the click of a button.
Social media influencers wield incredible power, as well. But they are only as effective as their identity — which is why it’s so important to stand behind the opinions they share and the products they endorse. While some influencers may have once been inclined to subtly twist their message for the sake of validation, that trend is slowly disappearing from social media. Most influencers and online creators are working hard to be seen as honest and authentic. Their audiences can see through disingenuousness, and they’re finding that being transparent with their beliefs and opinions is a great way to build meaningful relationships with their followers.
The Death Of Traditional Media
News flash (pun intended): Traditional media is no longer the go-to place for news.
Audiences have splintered into much smaller niches, with each faction having developed its own channels for resources and information. This means that hundreds, if not thousands, of different outlets are now present to represent nearly any point of view. Each outlet is catering to a specific type of person, and this fragmentation has led to a massive decline in trust in all news sources – because there is no longer one objective source of information that people can trust.
Many of these media outlets appear to be more concerned with attracting a large audience than reporting the facts. They sacrifice accuracy for views by reporting on stories before they’re thoroughly vetted. This desire for ideological validation leads them to publish stories based on fantasy, not reality. And instead of acknowledging the criticism and improving their process, they often play the victim while downplaying or missing out on vital complaints entirely.
With trust in traditional news outlets crumbling in the face of political bias, fake news, and sensationalism, a segment of the younger generation has begun to rely on influencers as trusted news update providers.
The Rise Of Genuinfluencers
In 2020, the term “Genuinfluencers” began to emerge in the social media landscape. These were a different breed of influencers, as what sets them apart from other online creators is that they do not sell or promote products to their audience. Instead, they seek to inspire and empower others rather than profit from social media trends. They use their platforms to spread awareness of critical social issues, such as gender equality and environmentalism.
These influencers are often experts in their fields — or their followers trust them to be as such. For example, many doctors have started using social media platforms after the pandemic outbreak to educate the general public about the virus and provide the best practices to stay safe.
“Genuinfluencers” are predicted to gain more popularity over the coming months. They are thinkers and leaders who won’t sacrifice their values for money and praise. Instead, they will inspire others while adhering to the core of their message. These principles are creating a growing relevance for these individuals, making them trusted sources of information with a growing influence.
The World Of Advertising Is Changing
Traditional advertising has lost its effectiveness, but it doesn’t mean that advertising as a whole is obsolete. Consumers are increasingly checking what their peers have to say about products and services — and that’s where reviews come in. Today, millennials are more connected and trust each other’s suggestions and reviews over almost all advertising forms.
Millennials are a highly discussed demographic for a good reason — they are hugely influential and can make or break a brand. Companies must realize that millennials don’t like pushing traditional boundaries – instead seeking ways to make an impact on the world around them. Businesses need to build communities and foster relationships with their customers to reach out to this audience and connect with them in a genuine, meaningful way.
This group of individuals is uninterested in intrusive advertising, avoiding irrelevant information like the plague. And if it isn’t of immediate value to them, they’ll tune it out. Millennials want control over the brands they choose to engage with — when they want to interact with a brand. They seek an experience that caters to their preferences. Like any other demographic, they respond best to incentives that reward their loyalty and make a difference in their lives.
Large Companies And Governments Are Turning To Influencers In Droves
Many large companies have noticed the power of using influencers, which is excellent news for both the companies and the influencers themselves. Some organizations are even willing to work with niche influencers who don’t necessarily have large followings, but have a loyal and highly-engaged audience. In today’s world, niche influencers usually have a better connection with their followers and are far from what one would call “celebrity status”. These niche social media stars can relate to their followers in a way that most celebrities simply cannot.
Influencers have become a vital conduit for brands who are looking to make trusted connections with consumers. The influencers’ authentic message allows them to build trust with their followers, enabling brands to build relationships with those followers — leading to more effective marketing and messaging. Millions of people looked toward Finnish influencers to get information about the latest COVID-19 safety campaign, and Indonesian influencers were the first to give everyone a heads up on getting vaccinated.
What it basically comes down to is that consumers today are too savvy for TV. They know the difference between sponsored content and genuine recommendations, and frankly, they’re sick and tired of being tricked into buying inferior products. Even government organizations that previously relied entirely on traditional tools like TV and radio spots, flyers, and billboards have moved towards the use of influencers to help spread their message about COVID vaccinations. These organizations are finding that they can get their word out there quicker and more effectively with influencers’ help than ever before.
In Australia, for example, the government has adapted to the public’s growing reliance on social media influencers as valid sources of information, proactively utilizing social influencers in the form of content creators across various platforms.
Marketers Embrace The Power Of Influencer Marketing
Marketers have developed their own strategies for leveraging influencer marketing. In a recent survey conducted by Takumi, around 800 marketers and over 3,000 consumers in the US, UK, and Germany were polled for their opinions on the subject. The results found almost 75% of marketers from these countries believe that influencer marketing efforts are more valuable than investments in other marketing activities.
But while it’s true that influencers provide for effective marketing, they represent far more than that in the social media landscape…and the world itself.
It should also be noted that one in every four consumers prefers to turn to social media and influential personalities for information, rather than journalists and news outlets. In the younger generation, this figure is even higher. According to Nielsen’s research, user-generated content and word-of-mouth recommendations are trusted more than advertising by 92% of consumers worldwide.
The trend has become more than that. It’s become the reality. Influencers and social media personalities are more than just Gen-Z’ers and millennials pitching products on their feed – they have become trusted, truly influential voices and sources of information.
The Future Of Many Traditional News Outlets Is In Doubt
Across the world, traditional news media is no longer as popular as it once was. As younger generations turn to social media to find entertainment and stay up to date with current events, news organizations struggle to tailor their initiatives towards consumers.
Younger consumers increasingly use various digital and cross-media platforms to find and consume news, while news media has not adapted their analytics to capture precisely how people interact with information across these varied mediums. Many news outlets collect quantitative audience data and web metrics to better understand their audiences’ preferences.
However, such data fails to accurately depict user interests because these metrics depend on factors like on-site layout, frequency, and clickthroughs to determine visitor engagement. This is one of the reasons that the younger demographic is often labeled as hard to reach. But the reality is that they aren’t. When presented with quality content, on the platforms in which they regularly occupy, they will consume it. As traditional media continues its slow decline in relevance, new storytellers and broadcasters are emerging.
And it’s only just begun.
It’s hard to imagine a world where traditional media has a sense of irrelevancy. TV news has been a source of up-to-the-minute news coverage for decades, but it’s slowly lost its influence over the past few years.
Meanwhile, there’s been a shift happening in the marketing world over the same period. Traditionally, large brands have used mainstream media outlets to reach their audience, but that’s changing. The reasoning behind this shift is simple — in 2021, the internet is responsible for most information consumption, and influencers dominate many of the channels on the internet, all while having trustworthy relationships with their followers.
It’s safe to say that influencers are taking over the spotlight from other traditional news mediums. It may actually be an understatement. But while this transition continues to develop, one thing is for certain; social media has become the go-to resource for all things media. And for better or worse, their viewpoints and the fashion in which they broadcast them, will shape the narrative of the news cycle moving forward.