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Genuinfluencers + Tone Shift in Online Content

Genuinfluencers became brand assets over the past year and a half after the Covid-19 pandemic shifted the tone of online content. In 2020, social networks transitioned from spaces of inspiration to places for information and education, says Napoli. At the same time, emerging platforms such as Clubhouse, Discord and Substack not only encouraged quality content that people would be willing to pay for, but it also gave way to a new group of individuals who aren’t conventional influencers but have amassed large followings because of what they have to say. While influencers have conventionally been used to promote the latest fashion, they’re increasingly being tasked by brands, governments and other large institutions who recognise the power of social media platforms to reach the masses, spread information and instill trust in society.

Brands seeking this “genuinfluence” beyond promoting a product are now working with influencers to curate ideas and join larger cultural conversations. This has prompted a shift in how brands evaluate their partners, with relevance and authenticity now becoming the most lucrative traits, says Jane Lim, co-founder and head of talent at Foundation PR, which works with popular beauty entrepreneurs including Michelle Phan and Christen Dominique. “Looking at a single-metric such as followers or average engagement rate is not enough; it’s important to look deeper.”

“The landscape has completely changed in regard to who is considered a person of influence and how we define that term,” says Hilary Williams Dunlap, senior vice president of talent at Digital Brand Architects (DBA), whose clients include Camila Coelho, Marianna Hewitt and Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere. Key influencer attributes are now a unique point of view, conversion and community. “Brands are looking closely at how engaged and tightly knit the following is and how influential the creator is within their community. That shift really came when talent began building a community based on shared interests rather than pushing out content that wasn’t aligned with their personal brand or values."

“In general we’re seeing a lot more honesty and realness in influencer content. I think that’s because of the confluence of the pandemic, more awareness for social justice, more open discussion around mental health and just more time spent on social media over the past year,” says Evy Lyons, vice president of marketing at Traackr, an influencer marketing platform. “More than ever before, this sense of accountability is present all the time.”

TL;DR: Gen-Z is less interested in being sold products and more interested in engaging with truth. The key to successfully marketing to Gen-Z will be authentically aligning with their personal brands and values - honesty, integrity, social justice, mental health, awareness, just to name a few. The tone shift in online conversation created from the BLM movement and COVID will continue to expand in the coming year. 

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Source: Vogue Business, 2021

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