Rise of the Micro
Precision-targeting through authentic voices has led to the rise of micro-influencers, but self-regulation is needed for success.
Fourteen-year-old Avni Deshmukh and her 16-year-old sibling Sara alternately do a post a day on Instagram, featuring the latest in make-up trends and commenting on the new and the fun colours that are out. If you think it is a bit too early in the day to seek name and fame on that platform, take a look at the numbers and traction. Their Instagram account #iconicakes has around 2,75,000 followers, and several companies send them newly launched products, expecting reviews.
In this era of connected existence and instant communication, almost anyone can be pursued by brands to 'spread awareness'. Whether you are a student, a techie or a home-maker, if you are passionate about a topic and have an opinion, you can share your insights on social media platforms and people will listen. In other words, a genuine voice, a smaller audience and better engagement will see people take off, earning them the new and popular tag of micro-influencers.
Due to real-time and native advertising, influencer marketing became a big hit with all companies. Of late, however, the sheer focus on eyeballs and the recent scandals where big-time influencers paid for followers, likes and comments to inflate their accounts have been a big turn-off. Even big brands are moving away from celebrity influencers to micro-influencers who are authentic and speak their mind.
The rise of the micro-influencers is not difficult to comprehend. As mentioned before, they have a better engagement with their followers and hence, are more careful about what they promote as they do not want to risk their online reputation. It also makes them more relevant in terms of product recommendation, a boon for brands trying to reach target audience.
"As it is a good business, we should have specific regulations so that people who endorse brands could be held liable for the comments they post on social media," says Siddharth Deshmukh, Senior Advisor and Adjunct Professor, MICA, and father of the budding Instagram stars mentioned at the beginning of the story. Even then, it will be difficult to draft rules and follow them as cross-checking influencer claims is easier said than done. "We need to call out people who are not genuine," adds Deshmukh.
The UAE has recently tried to regulate this budding industry. As per the latest regulations, influencers who make money by promoting brands on their social media pages will need a media licence, something akin to what publishers or media houses require.
According to R.P. Singh, Conference Chairperson, CMS Asia, and former South-east Asia Head of Media at VML, self-regulation is the key. Influencers must be self-disciplined and should not endorse a bunch of similar brands at the same time. They will lose their credibility by doing so and it will also hurt their long-term growth strategy. Unless influencers toe the line, they could soon be ignored by followers, losing eyeballs and traction that remain at the core of this business.
Snapchat Alpha Ready For Users
Snapchat's all-new Android app, announced last year by CEO Evan Spiegel, is now out. However, it will require root access to your phone's internal files if you want to enable the overhauled app, lauded for its smooth performance and speed. That could be risky as alpha versions often pose performance issues while rooting your phone could void your warranty.
No Tracking, says WhatsApp
In a recent development, Facebook-owned WhatsApp told the Indian government it would not be able to provide a solution for tracking the origin of messages shared on the platform as the move would go against the concept of user privacy and end-to-end encryption. It has, however, shared 'learning material' with the government to create awareness around misuse of social media and fake news. WhatsApp has also been asked to set up a local corporate body that will be subject to Indian laws.
Facebook Rating Users' Trustworthiness
Facebook has started rating its users' trustworthiness so that the social network would know how much to value user reports when they say that a particular news story might be fake. The Washington Post first reported the rating system. Facebook has said in a media statement that it does not maintain a "centralised reputation score". Instead, it is part of "a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system".