An influencer is someone with an online social media presence and with a large enough following to market or ‘influence’ their audience to buy products, services and goods.
The truth is that anyone can be an influencer, and some are famous solely for being an influencer. Popular influencers often create and sustain a close following from their fans, who might aspire to be more like them or see them as an ideal friend.
Understanding Parasocial Relationships
They may encourage positive behaviour and engagement with school and friendship groups or provide inspiration in an area of interest including fitness, fashion and gaming.
But they may also show harmful behaviours such as smoking, drinking, bad language and unattainable body standards.
Social media influencers are popular with young people who spend lots of time watching, commenting and sharing their content. These influencers are a source of entertainment for young people, but they can also provide information, advice and guidance.
Influencers exist on many platforms, but the main platforms are Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
A social media influencer can be:
Influencer Fan Base
Influencers often appear to have an attractive, flashy lifestyle and form loyal fan bases or ‘fandoms’. Some of these fan bases have a strong sense of community and even have names either created by celebrities or by the fan groups themselves.
These names are often used by influencers and celebrities to address and talk directly to their fans.
Membership of these communities can be a significant marker of a young person’s identity.
Popular Fandom Names Include:
What you should know about influencers
Younger children may not be able to tell the difference between normal content and obvious advertising from people they admire and respect.
Products may also not be suitable, appropriate or in some cases safe for young people, like diet pills or slimming teas. Young people may be encouraged (influenced) to pay, subscribe or join other communities. They may also be more sensitive to ‘asks’ from influencers to help them financially to continue producing content.