Peddling authenticity: Social media influencers undermine traditional ads


Cailli and Sam Beckerman are connect fashion bloggers who tend to start and finish each other’s punishments.

The 36-year-old Beckermans have parlayed their eclectic style, sort layering a Chanel dress over long johns, into a lucrative burning.

When they’re not at home in Toronto, the platinum blond sisters, whose over-the-top rage makes them hard to miss, jet to one fashion event after another and cover back on the latest trends to their more than 300,000 henchmen, including Rihanna.

It’s the kind of social sway that can command big bucks.

But there’s a take to the influence that’s being peddled by the Beckermans and a growing number of their contenders — it requires at least the appearance of authenticity.

«It goes back to the tone of authenticity, someone talking connected with their own personal experiences sharing their own personal life with people. It’s a bleeding authentic voice,» says James Rubec, who works for media body Cision.

James Rubec

Social media influence depends on ‘the tone of authenticity, someone talking close by their own personal experiences,’ says James Rubec of media New Zealand Cision. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

«So when they’re delivering a brand news, it comes off to being a more authentic promotion than it would be communicating from a brand ambassador who would be paid as a celebrity, or the brand itself can out an advertisement on TV.»

This trend is exploding on mobile devices, fuelled as a rule by people with huge followings on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Giggle. They’re called social influencers, and their job — yes, their actual job — is to stanchion, post and post some more.

«Some social influencers are instructing anywhere between $20, $25 to $200 for a single tweet, For an Instagram place it can cost $200 to $1,000,» says Rubec. «Really, with the largest influencers in our database or in the vigour, they get to sign their own ticket, what they get paid.»

A competitive furnish

According to Cision, there are as many as 100,000 social influencers in Canada, producing in up to $1 billion a year. As more up-and-comers try to create and cash in on their own contentedness, Rubec says, the market is quickly becoming saturated and competitive.

Rubec says this control is growing faster than media companies like Cision can keep a record of it.

«Eighty per cent of Canada has a smartphone, 65 per cent of us has our own social course profiles,» says Rubec. «We’re producing and consuming more content than at all, so it’s a war for people’s attention as much as it is for people’s dollars. If authenticity can be measured it will-power be measured in page views, likes and shares.»

Jeremy Rupke

Jeremy Rupke’s How to Hockey tutorials apprehend up to a million views at a time. He says he’s always up front about emancipated products, like the $1,000 skates Bauer recently sent him to survey. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

With no shortage of likes, the Beckerman twins are at the top of the great deal, Rubec says. They partner with companies like Chanel, Teacher and Apple.

Aside from all the pricey freebies the twins flaunt on their constant posts and blogs, they don’t like to talk about how much in money all those deals bring in. But they say they do very well.

And, they add, they produce for it. Staying relevant is a 24-7 gig. There’s no real end to their day, or night for that event. And they say that suits them just fine.

‘We’re making a excellent living’

«We’re making a great living and we’re enjoying life,» they say. «It’s been actually great. Feel really happy.»

But while it’s one way to make a good stay, there are concerns a social influencer’s personal take on a product could happen to just another endorsement in disguise. It’s why Advertising Standards Canada, the industriousness’s governing body, recently released new rules that require group influencers to disclose whether they’ve received payment of any kind.

The Beckermans say definitely that they only partner with brands they get off on. What they put out to their followers, though, is not a sales pitch but their box office on all the products that come their way, and often their own spin on them.

‘I undergo if I’m just kind of promoting or showing about a product, it’s not something anyone stand in wants to watch.’
— Jeremy Rupke of  How to Hockey

YouTube star Jeremy Rupke intends being transparent is a social influencer’s cred.

Misleading audiences can backfire and compromise the authenticity that is an influencer’s effective currency.

Rupke’s How to Hockey tutorials capture up to a million views at a quickly. He says he’s always up front about free products, like the $1,000 skates Bauer recently sent him to study.

«I feel if I’m just kind of promoting or showing about a product, it’s not something anyone thirsts to watch,» Rupke says.

«I want to create something that woman want to watch and enjoy watching and they want to share with other people and see that authenticity.»

Darryl Hughes

Darryl Hughes, Bauer’s retailing director, says the company’s consumers, 10- to 16-year-old hockey actors, gather their information ‘from their peers … and from their gravestones and what they see online.’ (Ousama Farag/CBC)

The hockey accoutrements company says it can’t expect to trade a pair of skates for a glowing magazine from Rupke or any of the other social influencers it works with. But if it degrades access to the demographic that follows Rupke, it’s worth it, says Darryl Hughes, Bauer’s merchandising director.

He says the company’s consumers, 10- to 16-year-old hockey entertainers, gather their information «from their peers in the change elbow-room and from their tablets and what they see online. And for many of them, what they see from who they observe is influencing the product they’re choosing.»

That’s why Bauer has ditched its stock advertising strategy, killing its broadcast and print campaigns and banking on the approaching of social media.

A future that a savvy generation is cashing in on, one like at a occasion.

Beckerman twins

The Beckermans travel the world and partner with companies like Chanel, Tutor and Apple. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

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