Faris, the topic is indeed one worthy of being called out. You trigger several thoughts; which I won’t profess to being logically delivered:
- In some sense, we sly, skeptical consumers know or suspect there may be a compensatory relationship in many influencer scenarios; or that there should be. (Ashton Kutcher figured this out early on and capitalized on it, likely awakening brands to the potential you now address.)
- We consumers may presume (even take for granted!) that money or some form of compensation is exchanged, but we may also choose to ignore the transactional possibility.
- We may also see it all as “advertising” anyway and accept the fact out of our highly trained (by advertisers) skepticism.
- You may be exposing a kind of loose continuum on which we all fit (at least those of us engaged in social media) stretching from “likes” to “endorsements” to “ influence.”
- Compensation, status and scale evolve as one moves up or down the spectrum.
- “Likes” in social media may essentially represent an effort to deploy influence or a kind of “local” celebrity endorsement at the non-celebrity or friend/acquaintance/connected level; essentially the continuum made evident in the palm of one’s hand.
- At the non-celebrity level, payment comes in the form of social currency, which can be a debit in personal equity, as well as a credit.
Hmmm. At least you’ve started a conversation. Influencer that you are. Smiley face here.