Rise of the influencer

Rise of the influencer

Although she is just 18, Ms Naomi Neo has more than 170,000 followers on Instagram and gets $45,000 worth of sponsorships a year for clothing, beauty products and gadgets.

She is among several other young, hungry and media-savvy individuals here who call themselves "influencers".

"I'm an influencer because of my following and because I have the ability to influence how youth think. I impact their lives," the second-year Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student says confidently.

The term "influencer" is a social media buzzword that is becoming a phenomenon here. It has found its way into many things, from personal bios on Instagram to designations on namecards.

It is generally used to describe people who have a substantial reach and following on social media platforms, are trend-setters and can shape the opinions and behaviour of many.

Social media marketing agencies say they look at what potential influencers post on social media, their interaction with followers and traffic to their social media channels to determine if someone has what it takes.

The term has been used often in the ongoing Xiaxue vs Gushcloud spat. It started after the 30-year-old blogger, whose real name is Wendy Cheng, alleged about a week ago that local digital and social media marketing company Gushcloud got its influencers to mask paid advertorials as reviews and pump up their blog page views, among other accusations.

Gushcloud's CEO and co-founder Vincent Ha, 30, then posted a lengthy reply, refuting her claims. Its co-founder Althea Lim, 30, also issued an emotional personal statement to Xiaxue, in which she questioned her intentions, because the blogger is signed with Nuffnang, a rival company.

While the word is most frequently used to refer to popular bloggers, influencers can also be actresses, DJs, socialites, gym buffs and even CEOs.

Mr Dennis Toh, 37, says his official title is that of influencer director and founder of The Influencer Network Communications, an influencer marketing and media agency similar to Gushcloud and Nuffnang.

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