Social media has made it possible for anyone to be a content producer; whether we realize it or not, we each have the opportunity to essentially run our own media company.
While it’s certainly easier for celebrities to gain a large following, thought-leaders who produce great content can also build a following to the likes of Kanye and Kim. When you think about it, these social media stars with thousands, or in some cases millions of followers, have a captive audience and significant influence. I took a look in my feed for some examples: Jennifer Weiner, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Solis, Sallie Krawcheck, Josh Kopelman, etc.
TheAudience is a company that saw an opportunity to profit by facilitating relationships between these high influencers and the brands that want to reach their respective audiences. (The company also happened to manage the social media strategy for President Barack Obama’s re-election and has advised the Ford Motor Co., Ian Somerhalder, and many other celebrities on social media strategy.)
In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal’s Bit Beat section, Paul Vigna and Mike Casey highlight a new ad campaign that will launch in an effort to rebuild bitcoin’s reputation and demystify the six-year old cryptocurrency through a public education campaign.
In order to do this, a consortium of bitcoin insiders got together and hired TheAudience, which will develop a campaign featuring social media stars who will incorporate the bitcoin related messaging into the work they produce online.
The social media stars aren’t necessarily household names, like an Ellen Degeneres or Bruce Springsteen. For example, 17 year old Acacia Brinley could be hired to participate in this campaign (the firm hasn’t confirmed the high-influencers yet) – she has 640K followers on Twitter, 530K on YouTube, and 1.7 million on Instagram. Furthermore, her followers are online, tech savvy, millennials which happen to be a perfect target audience for the online currency, bitcoin.
The concept is not much different than athletes endorsing brands, but I can’t help but pose the question: does it cheapen these microcelebrities’ social media feeds? Perhaps if the product seems like it is a natural fit and is in line with their personal brand, the campaign will appear authentic. However, followers who are privy to these kinds of campaigns know they’re getting paid to promote the product or idea and it could tarnish the influencer’s reputation by making them appear fake. I think the success and ingenuity of the campaign requires the microcelebrity to be very strategic with his/her brand just as much as it requires a company, like TheAudience, to choose the right ambassadors.