Are Likes the new bitcoin? How can comments show a real engagement with content?
This is the first part of a trilogy that looks forwards into analysing, criticising and valorising the always changing scenario of social media today.
Influence in the times of Instagram has a value, and a big one. And it’s not just about money, while we all know by now that there are some people that make quite a living from it. It’s about the fact that the value is not only measured now by quantitative standards, but by qualitative ones. In other words, it’s not about how many people follow you but WHO are the people that follow you. In a platform that registered 1 billion users on June 2018, and that has an average engagement of 2,2% —Facebook, even though is bigger, roughly gets an 0,2%—, playing it smart can bring some serious upside to you, and your business. If you really want to dive into numbers, get a cup of coffee before reading this.
But as the number of followers is important, so is the legitimacy of them. Buying followers, likes or comments is perceived as opportunistic, or, as millennial and Gen Z love to write in upper cases, fake. In a comparison with real life, we would be talking about an insecure person that isn’t confident enough to express himself in front of a group of people, or is frightened by the idea his actual interests will be criticised or simply ignored by the rest. Or, also, about those that seek social validation by showing-off how many people they know and how many people like them. Bottom line is, they are craving for social validation.
On the Instagram world, this translates to accounts with fake likes, followers and even comments —you would be surprised by the offer—, that not only seek for social validation but even try to fool brands to collaborate with them knowing that their influence is not as half as they claim it to be. Although marketing and influencer agencies have now plenty of tools to verify the legitimacy of content posted online, the market is expanding at such a fast-pace that is hard to keep an eye on the fakes while still having a clear mind to be inspired by the talented ones.
So, what exactly does this Instagram generation has created?
The word “influencer” may be the first word that pops into your mind, but until a couple of years the name to refer to those who published content on the Internet was “bloggers”. From articles of diverse lengths to pictures sharing their look of the day, it could all be found in some blogspot, Tumblr or Pinterest platform, usually found through a link in Facebook or Twitter that announced the content was up and ready.
Today, is not even necessary to have a blog, nor even a Tumblr or a Pinterest. It’s not even necessary to write at all. Merely an Instagram account that features expensive handbags, cappuccinos cups with a white insta-friendly background or a bikini photo on a dream-like destination would be enough for many. And it’s no coincidence that precise images are popping into your head the second you read this.
The point is, there’s nothing wrong if you want to share these pictures of you with the friends, family or whoever follows your profile. The critic comes when a tsunami of influencers try to capture brand’s attention and gain a living out of creating a copy-paste of the exact same content. But if social media has taught us something, is that there is an audience for everything. And if that’s the case, there is a question that comes up inevitably: does all the content out there has the same weight, and dare we say, relevance?
As a journalist, I always look for the value of the information i’m being presented. Is it interesting? Is it relevant for me in any way? Is it transversal to other aspects of these modern days way of living? It’s pretty clear that when a piece of content is carefully put together, it translates into high-quality. Even if many influencers, bloggers and journalists —and here I include myself— feel most of readers don’t care, it’s painfully evident that high-quality content doesn’t always have the highest number of likes or “LOVE IT!” comments. But, is that really the most important thing? Are we living for creation? Or more like dying for validation?
What do you think?
• • •
On the next 'Analysing Influence" article: What is the real value of a Like?