Influencers can also be poisonous

AdAge laments the risks of working with influencers. The problem here, even if “PewDiePie” has 60 million subscribers, is that he is not interested in the brands that sponsor his shows — he’s more like a television-era exec who thinks the only thing they provide to viewers is a distraction. In fact, people care about whether they support messages that align with their values.

“The fallen YouTuber known as PewDiePie, Felix Kjellberg, with nearly 60 million subscribers, used the “N-word” when his gameplay went poorly during the live stream. The slur was just the latest offensive outburst by Swedish-born Kjellberg, who lost a deal with Disney‘s Maker earlier this year for making anti-Semitic jokes.”

PewDiePie had 60 million viewers, but what will his numbers be next year? If they will be up, because people flock to the use of racial slurs, are those the right people to be engaged with? Brands need to genuinely engage and vet their influencers. Providing clear-cut guidance to consumers about the influencer’s role as a marketer on behalf of the brand is essential to consumer trust.

In fact, the FTC will make this a requirement, and the crackdown has begun. Brands need tools that connect them to traffic, but also that clearly delineate the relationship of the influence to the brand. Cutting off an influencer when they egregiously attack values the brand supports is one step, but basic public standard for disclosure of influencer relationships will also force brands to think more carefully about who they engage to speak to audiences.  Against that backdrop, we can intelligently judge companies’ social intentions as consumers.

 

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