NCC Knows Presents: What is an Influencer? NCC Knows Presents: What is an Influencer?

Exploring what Defines 21st Century Media Stars

Syracuse, N.Y. – Since the birth of computers and the integration of the internet into our lives, things once thought to be near impossible to accomplish are now commonplace in our day-to-day lives.

Cars are slowly working toward becoming completely automated, video calls from far distances, computer devices so small, they fit in our pockets and are strapped to our wrists like watches: it truly is amazing to see how far technology has taken us as a society.

Even in the world of entertainment, technology has flipped the industry on its head. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have gone from just another avenue of communication to information hubs with unlimited access to content you can’t find in traditional media.

With the rise of new tech comes the rise of new media platforms. And with the rise of new media platforms, comes the rise of a new breed of content creators.

Whether it’s a kid recording skits in his room and posting it on YouTube, an entrepreneur looking to grow their clout through free promotion online or even a celebrity that has amassed a massive following on multiple media platforms, they all fall under the same label: influencers.

“Influencers have a huge influence [in our society],” said Newhouse professor Alex Dunbar. “They are directing a lot of ways through just trends. You know trends, in general, can be very fluid. At times, they can be moved by small things that have a big impact and that’s what influencers are doing.”

Influencers have become the modern-day celebrity. No longer do you need to be a majorly talented actor, musician or writer to garner the attention of millions of people across the globe.

People like Jake Paul, PewDiePie and Liza Koshy all got their start making videos for YouTube and Vine, not looking for fame or fortune, but because they enjoyed doing it. Whether it was a “how-to” video,  vlogs/rant videos, video game gameplay or skits/comedy sketches, many of the top influencers started off doing what they’re doing simply for the love of doing it.

Just ask Zoë Huff, a Syracuse Student/aspiring fitness influencer who hopes to use her platform as a way to inspire young girls to take pride in who they are, regardless of their look.

“I want to have an impact on young women because I think there’s a misconstrued notion that lifting heavy weights will make you look manly, and I can easily squat 315 and I don’t look manly at all,” Huff said.

But being an influencer doesn’t just mean garnering a large following and impacting people’s lives, for better or worse. For certain influencers, it can lead to major paydays.

Major corporations and advertising companies have come to realize the hold influencers have on their audiences. So much so, they’ve hired influencers to promote and push their products through their social media posts/creative content.

“Well, if you look at it right now, I mean, monetizing by page clicks is one way that social media influencers are making money; product endorsements. I mean, if you think about it only makes sense,” said Keith Kobland, a news media manager at Syracuse University.

Being an influencer is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to do. Easy in the sense that all you need is passion, a good personality and a device with an internet connection to get started. The hard part comes in your content going viral. It’s impossible to know what the next big trend, fad or meme is going to be. Often times, stuff just blows up randomly; no explanation as to why people are consuming this content. It’s a boom or bust career path.

In the end, influencers hold a lot of power in the world. Because their avenue to perform is the online world, influencers can come off as relatable to their viewers. And that’s because they’re just like you and me; every influencer, no matter how many followers they have, is just a regular person, with similar feelings and insecurities that you and I would have.


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