Do Influencers Still "Influence"?

February 15, 2022

The creator economy is here, and just about anyone can become an influencer. As a Gen-Z, you’d probably personally know at least 3 people in your network who are influencers, or what we now call “creators.” As friends and friends-of-friends and that-guy-I-had-a-class-with-that-one-time grow their social following, being an influencer is becoming normalized among Gen-Z. But if everyone’s becoming an influencer… who are they influencing anymore?

From content fatigue to influencer fatigue – the theme of the past few years has been ✨overstimulation✨. Instagram has turned into a dumping ground for brands and sponsored posts, and many Gen-Zs have turned to TikTok to find more meaningful, stripped down, and real content from people. While TikTok is less saturated than Instagram, it’s definitely catching up. The average ad-to-organic content ratio is about 2:1 nowadays and honestly, we’re over it!

Influencer Marketing was once used as a way for brands to more “authentically” sell to their consumers, but it’s only time until said consumers catch on… and well, Gen-Z has. Influencer ads are now very obviously “ads” – with their followers commenting “get that bag, sis” or “yasss get that sponsorship.” Gen-Z is now increasingly hyper-aware of influencer ads and will boost their favorite creator’s content not because they’re buying into the product/brand, but to support the influencer (cause they know they’re getting paid).

There are, however, still influencers that actually influence. Here are two that have a chokehold on Gen-Z:

Emma Chamberlain

Originally a YouTube vlogger, Emma championed the authenticity movement on social media. Even back in her early vlogging days in 2017, she would sport a sweatpants-messy-bun look with her teenage acne-prone skin on full show. Now as her platform has grown and she is no longer the “average” person, she keeps it real by showing her not-so-picture-perfect life as an influencer. With her influence, many Gen-Zs alike have started posting crying pictures and casual photos much like Emma does. She has since started her own coffee company and is adored as one of Gen-Z’s fashion icons.

Matilda Djerf

Matilda has been a Gen-Z icon for years now, and is often credited for making the middle-part-curtain-bangs look trendy among Gen-Z. She is that pinterest girl that everyone eyes for her effortlessly chic Scandinavian look. Famously known as the “it girl,” she is who Gen-Z looks at for the next up and coming fashion and lifestyle trend (like the bumpit for example). As an influencer, Matilda is extremely selective with her brand partnerships – so when she does collab with a brand, you know it’s real! She now owns her very own fashion label called Djerf Avenue, which every Gen-Z aspires to sport.

So what did they do right? Emma and Matilda are transparent almost to a fault while still maintaining that “Pinterest girl” mystery. They’re open about who they are, what they care about, and have become their own “brand.” They’re selective with their partnerships and make sure their “ads” stay true to their brand. If they’re not on all platforms, they’re definitely talked about or referenced on all platforms.

On a micro level, the effect of influencer marketing has in fact, diminished. The impact 1 influencer’s video has on an individual’s purchase decision is minimal at best. But if you do it right – have a combination of micro to macro influencers, have the content look cool and feel authentic, be consistent with long-term partnerships – influencers can make a hell of an influence especially when it comes to brand affinity and awareness.

As the influencer space continues to saturate, it’s more important than ever to create lasting relationships with influencers. Gen-Z sees through the bull of one-off influencer campaigns and you’ll much likely catch their attention by turning your influencers into brand ambassadors. This consistency in partnerships will establish genuinity and better guarantee Gen-Z’s trust with your brand. At the end of the day it’s on brands to select the best partners, on influencers to stay true to themselves, and on consumers to judge if the content they’re seeing is real.