I often read in newspapers about influencers. I am interested in career options, so I decided to delve into the matter.
Influencers, operating online, often with videos, influence viewers to use specific products or take specific actions. To be effective, influencers need a following - a group of frequent viewers - and they need to be liked and admired by that group.
Many individuals try to become influencers. Some succeed to an amazing degree. Nine-year-old American Ryan Kaji earned almost $30 million this year influencing other children to buy certain toys.
Ryan shows kids how to make fun art projects like a conical Christmas tree and how to create games with objects like a Lego maze. He also reviews games.
How does he make all that money? He gets paid by YouTube for the number of views of his videos. Also, toy makers pay him to promote their toys.
He makes a huge amount of money because many individuals view his videos. Twelve billion views so far and counting.
To me, Ryan looks like a normal kid who is very enthusiastic about whatever he does.
The key to making a bundle as an influencer seems to be entertaining viewers - and being lucky. If the influencer starts being talked about positively in social media, fame and fortune may follow.
Some of the top influencers are celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Taylor Swift. They may directly try to influence their followers to buy their products or they may just try to keep themselves popular in the expectation that sales will follow.
Where can you find influencers, in addition to YouTube? Try Instagram and Facebook. Some influencers operate via a blog or podcasts.
Want to become an influencer? You will need to put yourself repeatedly on social media and make yourself highly likeable and entertaining. To have the most influence, show that you are an expert on something - children's toys, video games - something. If you want to be ethical, disclose when you are paid (PAID!) to promote an item.
The psychological question here is why do people let themselves be influenced into buying something? The answer is that they like and trust the influencer - they feel a connection. The followers associate the positive feelings they have toward the influencer with the product.
Parents and teachers may have something to learn from influencers. Work supervisors and public health officials too. How about you?
John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.