Egomedia: The Rise of Influencers

Read this week ‘s column by Ronaldo Lemos for Folha de São Paulo

published in

6 de August de 2023


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The Enormous Competitive Edge of Influencer Marketing

he competition facing traditional media and brands goes beyond platforms; it now includes influencers. In days gone by, the media landscape was ruled by channels and brands, but today we’re seeing the rise of “me-media” or “egomedia,” where the spotlight is on the “self.” This global phenomenon isn’t just skin-deep; it’s the newest chapter in the ongoing overhaul of media, with far-reaching structural implications. More and more folks are looking to consume content made by individuals, not corporations or brands.

As of last year’s close, a whopping 75% of brands were putting funds aside to pay influencers, as highlighted by an article from Harvard Business Review. And this phenomenon isn’t just about perception – it carries actual economic weight, with influencers stepping into the role of launching their very own products and brands. Across the U.S., you’ll find instances of influencers hitting the mark in sectors like coffee, fashion, cosmetics, and even delivery services. 

The competitive advantages of influencer marketing are off the charts. Think about it: the cost of snagging new customers and sealing the deal among devoted followers is super low. Plus, influencers leveraging their content for promotions adds efficiency and speed to the mix. And don’t forget, these folks are also multi-platform wizards, extending their influence across various networks and channels.

Moreover, they’ve got another ace up their sleeves: they’re practically free from regulations, rules, and ethical standards. That means they can communicate forcefully (sometimes excessively) and even sell questionable or harmful products that would be shot down in traditional media. In other words, there’s no equivalent of an influencer advertising watchdog out there.

Or at least there wasn’t until recently. Over in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission shook things up by tightening the guidelines for influencers in early July. England hopped on the same train, rolling out stricter rules in March. In the European Union, practically all member states are making strides in crafting laws and conduct codes for influencers. France, in particular, is standing tall. 

Even amid deep political divides, the country unanimously passed new legislation on June 9th to put influencers in check (sometimes derogatorily referred to as “infuvoleurs,” a portmanteau of “influencer” and “thief” in French. The law’s wording is clear and all-encompassing. It defines an influencer as someone “who exploits their fame for financial gain by promoting products, services, or political messages.”

This law bars the promotion of certain activities through influencer marketing, such as cosmetic procedures (including plastic surgery), counterfeit goods, nicotine products, gambling, and games of chance on platforms accessible to kids. In these cases, platforms must be officially registered and certified by the French government. The punishment for non-compliance is up to 2 years in the slammer and a fine reaching 300,000 euros (about R$1.6 million). Plus, influencers need to toe the line according to the Consumer Protection Code and Industrial Property, among other guidelines laid down by the law itself.

In Brazil, specific legislation on this matter isn’t in place just yet. It’s worth noting that even the ongoing debate on the so-called Fake News Law doesn’t touch upon this aspect. Nonetheless, Brazilian courts find themselves at odds with several influencers. Instances involving requests to suspend influencer accounts pop up frequently. It’s probably best to establish clear and transparent rules to avoid arbitrary decisions, much like other countries are doing.

What’s Out: Exclusive communication based on the Broadcast model (“One-to-Many”)

What’s In: The “Many-to-Many” model utopia

What’s Next: Communication based on the “Influencer-to-Many” model