media update’s Christine Gerber takes you through where social media influencers began, why they’re so sought-after and where they’re heading.

People have been buying products because of influential figures since the dawn of Hollywood (and possibly even before then!).

So when did social media influencers start making their mark? And what does the future hold for these Internet celebs? Let’s take a look.

A history: The rise of social media influencers


Influencer marketing has been around for decades. For instance, before the digital era, people in the United Kingdom would often look up to the royals and follow fashion trends based on what they were wearing, such as Princess Diana who influenced people with something called the ‘Diana effect’.

This effect included various fashion dress including jewelry (are you a fan of pearls? That was Diana’s doing), the little black dress and ‘power shoulders’, or clothing with shoulder pads.


Just before social media influencers, there were celebrity endorsements, brand ambassadors and well-known characters (think Tony the Tiger from Kellogg's Cornflakes) that paved the way for influencer marketing.

Slowly but surely, social media influencers became popularised on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram – but where did it all begin?

Let’s head to 2010

According to Grin (an influencer marketing software company), influencers on social media first made their appearance on Facebook (this was before ‘influencer’ became a job title) after Amazon partnered with the platform (right when it was starting to rise in popularity), which allowed consumers to see what their friends and family were buying.

“This was a very successful ploy that drove other brands and platforms to take influencer marketing more seriously,” says Grin writer Brian Mechem.

Fast forward to 2015

Airbnb popularised the partnering of brands with musicians by partnering with Mariah Carey in order to bring about a new era of travel influence. Carey was paid to stay in one of Airbnb’s properties and posted pictures of herself at the location online.

*Image courtesy of Grin

Present day

Social media influencers are now seen all around, with many brands itching to partner and include these individuals in their marketing strategies.

Wanted by brands: Social media influencers

With the rise of the ‘personal brand’ and authenticity being a must, more brands are looking to these influencers to help make them more relatable to consumers, as this will make the brand seem more trustworthy.

Consumers not trusting brands has become an issue, with most customers seeing brands as intrusive and, let’s face it, annoying.

“No one wants to see ads because no one wants to be sold to. It’s almost considered an invasion of someone’s time, and it upsets consumers more often than it engages them,” says Mechem.

And there it is: social media influencers have now come to the rescue by making brands seem trustworthy — up, up and away!

According to a study by Avionos, 55% of consumers have made a purchase using a social media channel. Additionally, Influencer Marketing Hub has reported that 84% of marketers that have included influencers in their strategy have considered it to be effective.

This means that brands should probably consider including these influential peeps in their strategies — if they haven't already.
Keen to include influencers in your strategy but not sure where to start? Check out our article, Getting to grips with influencer marketing.

Social media influencers: The new celebs?

Step aside Hollywood — celebrities have found a new place to mingle — and it’s just one Internet connection away.

With more and more YouTubers adorning their best dress on the red carpet, and participating in awards, it’s a wonder as to where this leaves traditional celebrities. A survey by Variety has revealed that “eight of the top 10 most influential figures among Americans [aged 13 to 17] are all YouTubers”.

Why are these Internet stars on the rise? This comes down to a variety of reasons, the main ones being the fact that they’re accessible (they’re like celebrities that actually interact and engage with you on social media) as well as — and we cannot stress this enough — they are relatable. And who wouldn’t want to be able to relate to someone experiencing stardom?

What it comes down to is this: Let’s say you want to buy a new style of jeans (in this case, we’ll say they’re torn, trendy jeans), but you’re undecided. You then see a random celebrity wearing these jeans. How do you feel? We can only guess and say that you feel indifferent.

Now, your favourite YouTuber, who likes all the same things as you (games, clothes, music, etc.) wears the same pair of jeans. Which pair would you buy? The obvious choice would be the jeans of someone who relates most to you.

Because you are able to relate to them, you would feel more comfortable wearing those jeans because the YouTuber you like seems to be more than a friend than a face in Hollywood — and friends don’t judge.

Marcus Butler, a vlogger and YouTuber with 4.56 million subscribers, explains: “[Traditional] celebrities have almost placed themselves on a podium. They are inaccessible. I’m sharing my life through my vlogs. I’m doing the same things my followers are doing. There are just more people watching what I do.”

What do you think? Are social media influencers the new celebrities? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know all about these unique creatures, find out How to catch a social media influencer here.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy