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Can Blockchain Technology Change Social Media Influence?

What makes a celebrity? Is it the glamorous clothes? The fancy cars? The prestige of their awards? Or could it be the number of their social media followers?

How many of us scroll our Instagram feeds and dream over the trendy outfits and fabulous vacations we see? GUILTY. Weirdly enough though, it’s not usually posts from TV stars or famous singers that make us feel this way, is it? These, my friends, are not the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but the lifestyles of the social media influencers.

Social media influencers, by definition, are people who have established some credibility and gathered a super large following. I’m talking hundreds of thousands of likes and comments on every single picture. And I thought my hundred likes was impressive. :/

Anyways, since they have that large of a network, they can reach a lot of people and gain sponsorships to share products. It’s like a direct ad for these companies, without them actually having to do all of the traditional ad work. Think about it. If a place like Forever 21 wants to sell a new sundress, it needs to hire models, shoot commercials, stage photo shoots, buy magazine space, send out email blasts, etc. All to get people’s attention for that one dress that probably is only worth $20. If Forever 21 could get a social media influencer to post a picture in the dress on Instagram, then Forever 21 gets all of the attention (considering that picture will be seen by 100,000-plus followers), and all it had to do was give a little incentive to the influencer. Win-win.

For a better idea of this dynamic, check out influencer’s like @cmcoving, @OliviaRink, or @travel_inhershoes on Instagram. You’ll see what I mean real quick.

Also, social media influencers aren’t just fashion influencers! Even accounts surrounding fitness (@kayla_itsines) or tech (@codingblonde) can be considered social media influencers. It’s like the next wave of vine stars … but much more likely to last.

Let’s talk about the numbers.

First of all, did you know that in 2019, instagram influencer marketing could reach $2 billion? In the next five years, it’s expected to be a $5 billion to $10 billion dollar market. This ain't no cute mirror selfie pic of you and your dog we are talking about — these numbers are HUGE. Which makes sense, considering 92 percent of consumers turn to people they “know” for a referral before buying or doing something. You better believe I’m going to check out every single picture on Instagram before buying that $20 dress to see how it reaaaally looks.

Distributed Influence

OK, now bear with me, blockchain technology actually does have something to do with pretty people posting fashionable Instas for money (sounds weird when you say it like that, but it’s not). Social media influencers may be a big part of the marketing of the future, but how can blockchains fuel that?

If you’re like me, your mind probably went straight to trust and authenticity. Since a lot of an influencer’s income comes from sponsorships, it can make followers a bit skeptical of how genuine their reviews are. Think about it. If this is your full-time income and a skin care company is asking you to post about how much you love its new face wash, would you be willing to rave about it for $$$ even though it actually makes you break out? You just might be … and that can take away all the authenticity and beauty behind social media influencers.

Now, let’s play with the idea of a social media influencer culture in a blockchain world. One option? Cryptocurrency. Yep — using crypto tokens to quite literally pay for the content you want. This was an idea proposed a little while back, but here is why it could be genius.

For Us: The Followers

By using blockchain technology, the transparency will be there. Reports have shown that something like 50 percent of interactions on a post tagged #ad are FAKE. This means there are people with multiple accounts, robots, etc. that are leaving a lot of those comments, shares and likes. If we use smart contracts, for example, every user could be properly identified. I know I personally always think that if an influencer has tons of comments and likes then I assume they are more popular and overall a better influencer to trust. You know what they say when you assume though ...

Moving on, tokens can be helpful in a number of ways. A main example, however, is if followers purchased tokens for specific influencers or specific platforms (i.e., an Instagram Token, perhaps). Then, they could access the audience data of any influencer on the platform. This means they could look into the authenticity, other followers and the companies themselves. With blockchains, we followers can safely purchase actual performance-based influencer services. Thank goodness, because I’m going to be really upset if you rave about a skin care product and it turns me blue (“Big Fat Liar,” anyone??).

For Them: The Influencers

When it comes to a person’s living, we’ve got to take things seriously, and blockchain technology is here to help us revamp the game. Let’s start with the problem surrounding influencers having to choose sponsorships, considering that’s one of the main ways that they make money. With blockchains and the use of tokens, influencers would be receiving income from the tokens bought from their followers. That means there is less of a need to accept bad sponsorships because influencers are making more money in more ways!

Plus, there are already some blockchain-based programs out there that allow all of the sales, relationships, followers, etc. to be tracked for each influencer. By using those blockchain programs, the third parties are being eliminated and so are the fees that the influencer would have to pay them. Yay for influencers having more power and authenticity!

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