Written by Charlotte Calvert
Gen Z has unfortunately been the generation plagued with a crippling addiction to social media, and by default, the first generation to become mesmerised by influencers. No matter your opinion on the idea of influencing, it can’t be denied that they have a huge impact on buying habits, as well as the overall zeitgeist of our current climate.
Instagram has already adapted its platform to cater to the growing market for influencing, now hosting a shop tab as one of their main features. Our social media is turning into a shopping experience based on false reviews and unregulated influence. We must ask ourselves, is this truly how we want our online experience to be?
With such a large amount of people being influenced by individuals who may have questionable morals and ethics, it does beg the question as to how long this can go on for? These influencers have no qualifications or safety checks to carry out their role and therefore their ability to influence the younger generation’s shopping habits, emotions and online social life can lead to a whole host of problems.
This can be seen from influencers such as Stephen Bear, who, as stated by The Sun, is in the midst of a revenge porn investigation involving his ex-girlfriend, yet still has a following of almost 300k on Twitter alone, and the list of problems only go on. These idols, that many impressionable young people are being exposed to everyday, may not be the prime role models that they make themselves out to be.
Users are now realising that they prefer to follow those who are more transparent with their posts. Transparency in this case may be linked to having less brand deals or promotions from companies such as Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing or Nasty Gal.
By doing so, influencers who aren’t affiliated with these companies may come across as more trustworthy and genuine, compared to those that consistently market companies regardless of what they sell or the message that they are sending to their customers.
The idea of being paid to partake in long term contracts with brands and being ambassadors could be labelled as misleading. Being linked to brands and marketing their items when you are being paid to do so is not only unethical but often leads to these individuals lying to their following purely for monetary gain. The lack of compassion some influencers have for their followers is concerning and users of the internet might just be starting to wake up to the toxic ramifications this kind of influence can have.
The rise of ethical influencing would lead to an entire overhaul of our current consumerist social channels, whether it has gone too far is unknown but with some influencers already taking on these roles, there is still hope for a future of transparency and truth. Paired with the new rule made by the FTC that influencers must disclose any connections or deals with brands, effort is being made to put a stop to deceiving ads.
With actions such as this being taken, it shines light on a newfound hope that our social medias may one day return to a platform of social sharing rather than a marketing wilderness. But we can only ask, is it happening quick enough?