The Influencer is dead. Long live the Genuinfluencer

The Influencer is dead. Long live the Genuinfluencer

Published: 21  JAN 2022 | Updated: 14 FEB 2022

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SOCIAL MEDIA| In the same year that the “fake news” era ended as Trump exited the White House and the Kardashian/Jenner clan axed their long-running show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the era of showboating excess and aspirational product placement has been eclipsed by something oppositional and grounded: the Genuinfluencer.

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“Genuinfluencer” was coined by the trend forecasters WGSN (formerly Worth Global Style Network) to describe social media stars who use their platforms beyond product placement.

“The genuinfluencer does not specialise in fashion, beauty or lifestyle content,” says WGSN’s Cassandra Napoli. Instead, the creators “spread important information that can keep people informed”, in addition to posts about products.

“Being too ‘aspirational’ is seen as almost repellent now by many generation-Zers, who favour platforms such as TikTok because of this,” says trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry, who has written about the changes in a new report.


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“Influencers are expected to be more authentic now, more than ever,” says Wharry. “Transparency is also required. Influencers can easily come under fire if they use the wrong historical term or show any behaviour seen (at odds with the) highly informed gen-Zers.”

The move towards greater transparency has been a long time coming. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission published suggested guidelines as to how influencers should conduct themselves online, with a call for more clarity about their corporate relationships. “Clarity counts,” the report said. But it wasn’t until the pandemic that this process sped up. At a time when people were stuck at home thinking about their mental health as well as the climate crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement, the role of the influencer had to morph.

 “Instead of watching stories of celebrities who were saying: ‘We’re all in this together,’ from their mansions, people wanted to (see) people going through the same difficult times,” says Alessandro Bogliari, the co-founder of The Influencer Marketing Factory. “Because of the pandemic there has been a big shift from ‘worshipping’ celebs to trying to have a more ‘normal’ connection with influencers who were struggling as well.”

Story continues after the artwork details.


The Influencer of the future is here. More thought-leaders than tastemakers, Genuinfluencers are more interested in using their platform to share advice and information rather than promote products or show off their lives.


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Expanding Roles
Throughout 2020, influencers across the world expanded their roles, providing key information about the pandemic. “Influencers joined cultural conversations about important topics such as getting the vaccine and donating blood,”

A big change, too, he says, was that brands stopped looking at the number of followers an influencer has and instead at the influencer’s audience.

“Today, it is very hard for influencers and even brands not to disclose where they stand, for fear of being cancelled,” says Wharry. “The audience wants to know so that they can make informed choices as to whom they follow or purchase from, as they see their follows, likes and cash as a way to show their political stance.