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Is social media making us lazy?

Social media dominates much of our day to day communication. We post on a friend’s wall to wish them happy birthday and double-tap their pictures to show we care about their lives. It’s also increasingly becoming the way we engage with businesses.

We angrily tweet companies when our deliveries go AWOL or vent about bad customer service. We scroll through beautifully curated feeds full of perfectly styled people, engaging with brands without consciously realising it. But is this a force for good or is it encouraging laziness among brands?

Influencing the nation

Influencers are a thoroughly 21st century phenomenon.  Beautiful people who have turned their talents, like makeup, fitness or simply looking great into their business now dominate our social media feeds. They’ve always existed, in the form of models, singers and actors, but the influencer of the digital age is different. Now, they’re ‘normal’ people who have grown their following online, rather than in the unrelatable Hollywood hills. We love their relatable lifestyles even if the reality is they’re anything but.

Now, companies have started to recognise this.

Instead of bombarding customers with sales-y jargon and in your face advertising, they’re going undercover in the online world. Although influencers are bound by the ASA to declare sponsored posts, an #ad post about a brand from someone who is trusted by their followers is still comparatively covert.

When influencers share beautiful snaps, we subconsciously associate the brand they promote with that aspirational imagery. Buy this lipstick, fake-tan or teeth whitener and maybe you’ll end up like the person you admire. Are we really that easily influenced, you might ask? Well, it seems we are, otherwise influencers wouldn’t charge four (or five) figure fees for a single sponsored post.

As we demand authenticity from advertising in the world of fake news and ‘alternative facts’, influencers that we trust and feel as though we know bring this to the table.

The death of creative marketing

Although influencer marketing is an interesting direction for the world of advertising, it has its own drawbacks. By relying on trusted bloggers to sell their products, brands no longer have to deploy the creativity they once did in traditional marketing. Instead of coming up with intelligent, memorable campaigns, they can pay people just to mention their products and watch the cash roll in.

This isn’t appealing to everyone though. Influencer marketing doesn’t fit with every brand’s identity. It’s totally ineffective when targeting groups that don’t spend much time online and we’re also becoming aware of how false social media can be. Influencers promote hair-growth vitamins with thousands of pounds worth of extensions secretly bonded to their own fried locks. The much-craved authenticity doesn’t come from every influencer.

Everyone can write, but not everyone’s a writer …

But one thing that influencers will never be able to replace is the impact of expertly-crafted written communications. A pretty face and nice personality will never be as influential as spell-binding words. The popularity of influencers may wane, but people will always be drawn in by interesting, engaging content that offers an intelligent take on a subject.

Particularly in more complex industries, like financial services and healthcare, it’s wise to leave the content to the experts. Writers who can decipher head-spinning jargon and make it into something we can understand aren’t as glamourous, but their skills are a rare, valuable commodity. Invest your budgets in ensuring your written communications are as strong as possible, and you won’t suffer if the influencer trend dies out.

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