Influencing has “made it”


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Influencing has “made it”

Influencing is offically part of “The Deal”


TikTok recently added a feature called TikTok Shop, letting users buy stuff they see in videos without leaving the app. And while Shop videos are everywhere now (they’re recognizable by the orange shopping cart tag next to the video description), unfortunately, many TikTok users aren’t loving it. (See: “TikTok’s shopping push left my For You page in shambles”).

Regular readers of this newsletter know all about “The Deal” —that’s my nickname for the advertiser supported media business model. It’s fueled everything from terrestrial radio through to TikTok, and it will never, ever die.

Not that people haven’t tried.


A new piece in Vox makes the case that influencing will never go away.

For about five minutes a few months ago, people seemed to genuinely believe that our culture was entering the age of “deinfluencing…” The idea of the “deinfluencer” was that instead of encouraging you to buy stuff, the influencer would encourage you to ... not buy stuff.

The lie of “deinfluencing,” by Rebecca Jennings

But. The hashtag #deinfluencing quickly decended into farce when people simply started posting negative reviews for products, often alongside a positive review for a cheaper product that they were being paid to hawk.

I mean, lol.


I think it’s time to offically elevate influencing to “The Deal” status.

As Vox puts it, nothing —not #deinfluencing, nor user disillusionment with sponsored posts, nor TikTok shop— has come even remotely close to slowing the influencer economy.

By all metrics, it’s growing. As I linked to in the “Got 60 Seconds?” leaderboard above:

“The number of content creators is expected to grow at a 10 percent to 20 percent compound rate during the next five years, according to Goldman Sachs. The market is on track to rise from US$16.4b in 2022 to US$21b in 2023, and advertisers are spending less in traditional media and more on influencers because young consumers tend to trust influencers over brands and social media over national news outlets.”

What’s more, “influencing” is not only growing, it’s expanding:

“What started as the province of consumer categories like fashion, beauty, travel, food, and fitness now includes political activism, literature, music, art, corporate life, dating, and mental health. If it exists, there are influencers for it.”

The Deal (“Give me what I want for free and in exchange I’ll stomach an ad every now and then”) has shifted formats over the years: for over a century now, it’s made radio, television, and online services as diverse as Google, YouTube, Gmail, Pinterest, not to mention essentially all of social media, free for all of us.


Commentators have been calling the social media era over for a while now.

If you’re looking for clues to back this up, you’ll find them. People are turning to IRL meetups to socialize. Dating app usage has fallen off, pushing share prices for firms like Bumble and Match Group down to all time lows.

And usage patterns on platforms themselves are changing. Instagram’s head recently admitted that people are sharing way, way more rich media on private direct messages than they are posting on Reels or Stories, let along “Feed” aka “the grid,” which has long since become a ghost town.

And yet.

The stats tell a different story. Social media isn’t dying. It’s growing. It might have been a minute since you logged onto Facebook (I don‘t even know my password), but according to Insider Intelligence, Meta’s dominance is actually absolute: Instagram’s user base is larger than those of X and Reddit combined.

Social media is simply media these days, for better or for worse.

As I’ve previously written, if you have ever had the hint of a creative impulse, there’s never been a better time in human history to act on it.

If you can be compensated for your efforts, even better.


There’s a generational shift at play here as well. The profession more young people want to be today, over any other?

You guessed it. Influencer.

As a journalist and professor that Vox spoke to said, for many in Gen Z, “the concept of selling out has no meaning whatsoever; the goal is to sell out.”

If that sounds off to you, zoom out. Advertising gets a really bad rap. And, while bad advertising deserves it, good, effective advertising —I’m talking that oh-so-clever copy line, brilliantly simple strategy, or artful and pleasing design— does more than just make consumers happy.

Advertising brings products we wouldn’t otherwise know to the fore. It can even help create jobs. (As demand for certain brands goes up, more people are needed to keep pace, and make, test, market, and deliver more of those products and services.)

Again, there are definitely plenty of lazy and/or ugly ads out there, not to mention plenty bad products. But there are also quality and/or innovative products, priced fairly, from well intentioned manufacturers.

How are they meant to find an audience?

And aren’t our lives that much richer with more choice?

Go influencers.


A new app called Passionfroot Discovery will let you discover and book top creators to promote your product »»

TikTok Shop is a dream for creators. It’s putting shoppers at risk »»

Is Social media dying? What that could mean for marketers »»

Negative and positive effects of advertising »»

Young people want to be influencers even as older americans say it isn't a real job »»

Written by Jon Kallus. Thanks for reading.

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