Are 'influencers' steering themselves blindly down a dead end road?
Podcast reflections and a speculative look at the future.
Claiming that an 'influencer' has had their day or that their days are numbered, risks putting yourself in rather hot water. You open yourself up to a hurricane of abuse from not only the immediate persons you are citing, moreover, you are subject to the scrutiny and possible hatred of their very many loyal followers. Why then would I choose to discuss this exact topic?
On listening to a podcast between two very iconic people who have cut their teeth on the exact topic we are covering today, they unveiled some very interesting and insightful points.
The infamous Chris Harris, a man who I have the utmost respect for and Raz Rehan from "Remove before race" (who I must own up to knowing nothing about until coming across this video) discuss, amongst other things, Influencers vs Journalists.
Same old Same old
With camera technology and video editing software becoming more and more accessible, it's quite feasible to create good quality content, cheaply and build your following on a modest budget. Add in a reasonably priced drone with a camera, a willing friend and a promise of a full english breakfast at the eatery of their choosing and you can have a great number of quality clips to take home and edit, ready to post for your eagerly awaiting followers.
The question that Chris and Raz discuss in their almost hour long roadside chat is what makes influencers stand out? If they were a business, because let's face it, those that are doing it well, are monetising their work via youtube and other revenue streams, branding and product placement etc... what is their USP, Unique Selling Point. What makes them stand out from all of the other youtube content creators?
I must hold my hands up and I'll be the first to admit, there are only a select few creators that I enjoy content from, fewer still who's opinions I value. Personal taste I know, however there's one commonality between those select few people, they're not afraid to comment negatively on the product they are reviewing. This is the problem with current "influencers" and what could ultimately being their downfall. People on their way to YouTube fame and glory are rightly going to be super cautious about reporting the flaws and failings of a manufacturer. On the contrary, they are likely going to butter them up, pay lip-service to things that deep down probably bug them and their video will go a little something like this....
YouTuber meets car - Artsy photos and clips - the same facts and figures that every other creator has quoted - a few things they've done better than the previous model - something about how well it handles and drives - then a positive parting message, possibly one so cheesy that you'll rush out to your nearest showroom to put down a deposit.
What made TopGear and Fifth gear great? It wasn't the presenters, although that's a discussion for another post, it was the honest, open, no B.S opinions of a car.
Sure there was hate, there was love too, but what made the shows exciting were the fact that the presenters weren't afraid of going against the grain. Jason Plato telling us a car just doesn't turn in like you'd want a hot hatch to, or a Hammond saying how harsh the ride is on a new BMW product.
As YouTube grows at an exponential rate, more and more people are having a crack at the motoring VLOG thing, hell, i've had a go at it too and realised It takes a lot of hard work to create even the smallest of clips. The question is, are these content creators actually steering themselves down a dead end road?
Ppretty soon, the market (Social media platforms in this instance) are going to be fully saturated with content, of the same cars, the same positive opinions and frankly, that seems like career and business suicide. As Chris Harris rightly notes, people and businesses need to have a USP and if all 'influencers' are producing near enough the same, positive content to ensure they please the manufacture supplying them with a vehicle, we're going to end up with a very dull state of affairs, where all cars are deemed as excellent.
Time for a U-Turn?
The question we as ourselves now then, is what are these 'influencers' going to do differently, moving forwards?
To quote Albert Einstein ...
It's time for a change. Something different. If I knew what that golden ticket was, i'd already be doing it to get ahead of the curve, but something has to give.
Something I'm passionate about is seeing a shift back to more considered and well thought out content. Long format videos and written article that appeal to car enthusiasts of a different generation and ilk, rather than quick, flashy films that get the ratings needed for huge growth and monetisation.
The kind of videos that inform and educate on a deeper level, rather than the quick and witty content found on pages such as Car Throttle and Donut Media . We're not slating them for what they do. Far from it. They have a huge following, which proves their videos and work have an audience. What we're asking here is will there be a shift from what we currently see in our feeds to a different form car based consumption?
Tell us in the comments which content you enjoy and where you think the social media motorcade is heading ...