Dr. Pradeep Mahapatra
Earlier to invention of printing technology ‘town criers’ pronounced information in high pitch of voice at crowded places and ‘news writers’ circulated news in form of newsletters dispatched to destinations. A large number of people joined the profession of news collection and circulation with increase in popularity of print newspapers and named as ‘journalists’. In the later times people working for radio, television and news web portals were also known as ‘journalists’. During middle of the first decade of twenty-first century rise of social media created opportunities for the news consumers both to receive and circulate information. In such an environment it was marked that content created by certain persons attracted huge number of online consumers. However, they were not identified as ‘journalists’, but called as ‘social media influencers’.
Influencers followed the path laid by traditional media platforms to deal with news and opinion alongwith advertising. Influencers were rated as per number or quality of their followers who consume their content. Influencer circles are enriched with less number of experienced mainstream journalists and more of digital native news writers. Creative talents well-versed with digital platforms endeavoured into the new medium of mass communication. In the process of change social media enriched with spread, increase in consumer base and a better democratic environment promoted the influencers in the fields of news and advertisement as leaders. The future of the trend appears to be promising.
‘Dentehu India’ in collaboration with the ‘Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi’ released a report entitle ‘Impact of Influencer Marketing in India’ during June 2023. Understanding the emerging trend, firstly, influencers are active mostly in Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin and X (Twitter) platforms in India. Secondly, business houses dealing with beauty, fashion, lifestyle, consumer goods, food and travel are spending money in influencer advertising since 2018.
Thirdly, the followers of social media influencers are categorized into four groups taking into account of their age. Generally people aged 18 years to 23 years are identified as ‘Generation- Z’, between 24 years and 37 years as ‘Millennials’ between 38 years and 56 years as ‘Generation – X’ and between 57 years and 64 years as ‘Boomers’,
‘Generation – Z’ and ‘Millennials’ are greatly affected by social media influencer marketing. While brand advertising reach 28 percent among ‘Generation – Z’, influencer advertising access 33 percent. Similarly brand advertising reach 24 percent among ‘Millennials’, influencer advertising access 36 percent. On the other hand, brand advertising reaches ‘Generation – X’ 37 percent and influencer advertising accessed by only 12 percent. The category of ‘Boomers’ are affected by 63 percent through brand advertising and 38 percent through influencer advertising.
Fourthly, successful influencers earn hefty amounts from advertisers of products and services. For example; influencers charge between Rs 10,000 to Rs 7,50,000 per post for financial advertising of banks, insurance, mutual funds, stocks etc. Influencer advertising agencies those engage and supervise social media advertising get upto Rs 20 lakhs for an advertising campaign.
Fifthly, spread of internet connectivity and rapid growth of users of smartphones in the post-pandemic era in our country resulted in importance of social media influencer marketing. Followers of popular influencers range from 1,50,000 to 2,50,000. Trend of social media influencer advertising is gradually shifting from urban locations to rural settings. Alongwith English and Hindi, advertisers are engaging influencers in regional languages.
‘Advertising Standards Council of India’ lays emphasis on three aspects of expertise among social media influencers. How much followers an influencer reaches, to what affect motivate audiences purchasing decision and what is his or her position, authority, knowledge, relationship with the audience to evaluate an influencer. The leading social media influencer advertisers in our country include Hindustan Uniliver, Marico and Bikanervala etc.
For example, Marico could reach 38 crore audience for its hair-care product ‘Livon’ through influencer advertising. About 1000 videos were posted by the followers in course of the campaign. Marico also engaged 40 influencers below the age of 40 years to publicize its Parachute brand coconut hair oil.
Influencer advertising is popular mostly among ‘Generation – Z’ and ‘Millennials’ spread over the age group of 18 years and 37 years in India. In absence of data, it appears that the same age group access to news through social media and follow influencers for news, current affairs and opinion.
‘Forbes Advisors’ data reveal that by the beginning of 2023 about 67.5 percent of internet consumers were present in social media. They spent 141.6 minutes daily on various social media platforms. It is being told that if the trend continues and the longevity of ‘Generation – Z’ is calculated at 73 years, each person will spend above 5 years 7 months in social media. Such statistics signifies the importance of social media influencers in the recent future.
(English translation of the original Odia newsletter by the author circulated on September 08, 2023. https://tinyletter.com/pradeepmahapatra/letters/message-318
It is an open-access content, free for translation and reproduction)
Dr. Pradeep Mahapatra is a retired faculty of Journalism, Berhampur University, Odisha. https://about.me/pradeepmahapatra
Mishra, Anuradha. Dawn of a New ‘I’ Age. Business Standard (Bhubaneswar Edition) August 31, 2023
Basu, Debashis. Steps against Influencers: Will they work ? Business Standard (Bhubaneswar Edition). August 28, 2023
Top Social Media Statistics and Trends of 2023 – Forbes Advisors INDIAhttps://www.forbes.com/advisor/in/business/social-media-statistics/