The Role of Influencer Marketing and what it means for your Health

Oct 26, 2020 | Finances, Health, Physical Activity

In a world where everything is controlled by social media and the Internet, the role of influencers and their control over the public proves itself to be increasingly important. The idea of having a normal person, most likely one with wealth and privilege, a large platform, and following seems crazy, but truth be told, there are too many of these people to count. While being famous seems like a dream, many modern influencers don’t truly realize the impact they have; whether they are loved or hated, the reach and power they hold is obscenely huge. 

The ideal influencer would be aware of this and would guide their audience towards positive things, but this is hard to achieve when the majority are clouded with greed for money and fame or are not invested in really creating a long-lasting trust in their followers by talking about both the pros and cons. Specifically, when influencers are sponsored by companies who sell products that barely have anything to do with health (such as food, technology, cosmetics, etc) they often disregard the quality and safety of the product – when realistically, this is just blind advertising. This is especially dangerous when audiences are not likely to do their own external research to become aware and are likely to blindly follow their favourite influencers’ recommendations because it seems to be effective. 

How many times can you count where an influencer that you follow has warned their audience about potential hazards regarding the product they’re promoting? Probably not too many. This is a problem. 

While it seems like extra work to add health cautions to products, by theory it should be simple – a good example would be cigarettes. Each packet comes with a warning of the impact smoking has, and despite this cigarettes are still widely used throughout the world. This means that even though there is a health hazard on the product, people are still willing to buy it – which leads to the question – why aren’t companies including these hazards? Especially when it doesn’t seem to harm their sales, as it seems to be with cigarettes? Why don’t they makeup companies, junk food and drink manufacturers, refined & processed oil companies, and many like them include any hazard warnings? Why aren’t the so-called influencers being more socially responsible?

This links back to the problem which is immoral advertising and boils down to the ethics of influencers and their relationships with their sponsors. For example, if an influencer was advertising face or hair serum, how much extra work would it be to mention certain ingredients that may be problematic for some or many? Or the problems that could occur due to an extended use/misuse of the product? Or, in another example where they may be advertising a cosmetic product, such as foundation, it might be worth mentioning how some ingredients can cause adverse effects such as oily skin, acne, and other problems. All makeup products are full of toxic ingredients for which the liver has to work extra hard to detoxify the body. Or, another example of an advertisement for coffee, which can be addictive, cause anxiety, cause sleep/hormonal irregularities and so much more. 

The lack of transparent advertisement is not a modern problem, however, the frequency of it has definitely picked up in the last 2 decades due to the expanded reach social media has provided the world. You are no longer watching these promotions on television but they are super customized to your handheld device, the platform, and your tastes making you choose options which ideally you wouldn’t. The idea of promoting products with a too-good-to-be-true through influencers is almost genius since it works so well but the ethics of this is questionable. The responsibility now lies with the influencers to help with this transparency. This will, however, require a certain amount of awareness and willingness from them to do this – and this action will probably not be taken any time soon, thus, the responsibility falls into the hands of the customer. 

What can you do (as consumers/customers) irrespective of what products are being pushed/marketed? Just ask these 3 simple questions  – 

  1. What is inside this product?
  2. Is it helpful or nutritious for my body?
  3. Where does it come from?

You don’t need to be a product specialist to really know everything in detail but answers to those three questions will help you make the right choices, help you learn better, and definitely make you an aware customer.

In a world where there is constant advertisement around you wherever you go, it’s important as a consumer to be aware – especially when the people advertising do not have your health and wellbeing in mind at all. Whenever you see your favourite influencer advertising their favourite coffee brand, or makeup product, or anything really, further research into the product before purchase will become increasingly important, as it could risk your health or could potentially be extremely problematic for you.

So, understanding the problem would be a step in the right direction – and being aware of the blatant advertising is a step towards a healthier you, because after all, you’re the customer, meaning you’re the one in control. Ideally, it should be the influencers’ that we look up to who should be helping us out and should be informing us about health hazards regarding the products they advertise, but this isn’t reality, which means it is up to you, me, and every customer in the world to take action for themselves. 

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