“The Influencer.” It’s a rather enigmatic trope that we’ve been hearing a lot about over the past few years. Somehow these people of many faces and thousands of followers hold a lot of clout in our culture. And they are going to be there to, well, influence us, for some time.
That’s the take of Jonathan Riff, the founder of Otok Creative, the “boutique digital agency specializing in travel, hospitality and branded lifestyle imagery & marketing” has some opinions about these people who shape our opinions.
“It’s kind of in the word, isn’t it?” He says. “If these people weren’t influential then they wouldn’t be a part of the media and cultural landscape. There’s really no getting around them. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
It is by now the norm for social media to play a huge role in the perception of any brand, place or personality. Riff should know. Otok’s approach to social media is to “take the mystery out of it.” He and his team know the platforms inside out, even as the boundaries between them are constantly shifting.
His approach confirms what should be obvious by now: that the days when advertising was just down to the passive image on a page or a screen are long gone. Now, personality is integral. The word of someone who is an authority or an active participant in the product or service’s market matters.
Influencers haven’t merely transformed the realm of marketing, their emergence in advertising has transformed the expectations and perceptions of the target audience, of the people a product is being marketed to.
Riff explained, “Let’s say for a second that we could potentially hit a reset button on the marketing world that could, maybe, erase the influencer from existence. That would still leave a marketplace that has now gotten used to that connection, a really specific connection that the influencer has introduced to influence how we think and look at the world. And it got that way in the first place because at some point people realized that something was missing. The industry always has a way of figuring out what needs to come next, and that’s what needed to come next.”
In short, the approach of Riff and Otok is one that is, for lack of a better term, more democratic. Riff understands that if an idea isn’t shared or tweeted or liked around the internet as much as possible, it isn’t going to catch on. And this requires the touch of an active mind, of a trendsetter, of someone whose own ideas carry weight.
In the end, says Riff, it comes down to whether people feel the connection or not, whether they can see themselves in the world that the product or service has built for them. It’s all about what the people want, and in the end a business will do best when that is its priority.