15 Sep 2020 20:26 IST

Being a social media influencer comes naturally to millennials

The ability to create a societal impact through tech is driving them to pursue an influencer career

The first thing millennials see in the morning is social media. It is also the last thing they look at before going to bed. So, why will they not choose to make it a career option? After all, social media influences every little and major decision millennials make, and vocation is part of it.

If only it were that easy to explain why so many millennials prefer being an influencer.

When you’re trying to understand what provokes people to make far-reaching choices like picking a profession, you need to begin with who they are. Because every generation is shaped by its circumstances, and millennials are no exception.

Who are millennials?

Millennials are individuals born between the period 1981 and 1996, but that’s just a demographic definition. What makes Generation Y millennials is their first-hand experience of the evolution of technology. They were born in the crucible of the internet, becoming its earliest adopters. It makes them naturally comfortable with smart phones. Being digital natives, they use social media for everything – entertainment, research, shopping, and, of course, socialising. This is the underpinning, the foundation if you will, of them choosing to be influencers.

Ipso facto traits

The bricks stacked above the foundation are their unique attributes. Millennials are innately curious. They like to discover new things (and share it on social media). They don’t let jobs interfere with other life interests, ever so often choosing experiences over careers. They desire flexible work hours and have little patience with parental approval.

All of this, smart phones and the concomitant rise of social media along with their traits, make them predisposed to pursue an influencer career.

The impetus of turning that predisposition into reality comes from three broad factors.

Technology, the enabler

Technology enabled a new era of word-of-mouth, a digital one. Consumers stopped trusting adverts with random strangers (or celebs) long back. They found it unauthentic. That’s why 122 million people in India use ad blockers.

Instead, their faith is placed on recommendations given by someone they follow on social media. This is especially true for Indian millennials, 23 per cent of whom, says a report by Deloitte, purchase products due to social media recommendations, and 63 per cent use it to stay connected with brands.

This redefinition of advertising due to booming technology became a push factor. It opened a whole new world of career alternatives and becoming an influencer tops the list.

Money, the lure

Way back in 2018, Instagram saw a surge of posts with #DoorsOfIndia. The heralds of the campaign were six explorers. They travelled to 46 cities in India to document the story of ancient doors. It turned out that the journey was entirely funded by Tata Steel to advertise a new range of doors.This is just one example. There are abundant such instances where brands have moved away from unrelatable celebrities and paid social media users with the clout to create a buzz.

Think of it this way. Millennials realised that in their palms, they have ready platforms to showcase a talent or indulge in a passion and earn from it. The perception of easy money became a pull factor for millennials choosing to be an influencer.

That doesn’t mean every creator begins with the thought of earning money. Often, it starts as a passion project or a side hustle. It turns into a vocation only after they gain traction and start getting offers for sponsored content.

Recognition, an equal driver

Money may motivate millennials to be an influencer, but the recognition that comes with this line of work is an equal driver. One of their biggest life-ambitions is to make an impact on society, occasionally even over higher salaries and home ownership.

By becoming influencers, they can make a difference in the world and be recognised and acknowledged for it. A single social media post allows them to amplify the voice of causes they believe in, like gender equality. The recent lockdown serves as a proof for how much content creators can contribute for a community.

A whole slew of other motives

Technology, money, and acknowledgement are three of the broadest reasons more and more Indian millennials are taking up content creation as a profession. But like everything else, there are so many other motives behind it.

The birth of a shared economy is one. Millennials don’t want to see their cars sitting idle. They use Uber to earn from it. For them, an empty home is an Airbnb waiting to happen. So, if they’re already organically posting about brands they love, why not profit from it?

Another is the increasing adoption of local vernaculars. A lot of millennials finally see others creating content in their bhasha. It has given them the confidence to do it too. And, not least of all, the democratisation of social media has done away the need for a huge following to become an influencer. All you must have is the power to sway someone else’s decisions.

So, the question is not why millennials are choosing to be an influencer. It is why should they not choose to be one?

(The writer is Founder, Do Your Thng, influencer marketing tech platform.)