Redefining Influence

Published by Lerato Yende Yende


8 June 2023


In today’s hyper-connected world, young people are constantly bombarded with a barrage of content whether positive or negative. Young people today are living in a world where content consumption has become a way of life, with many spending hours each day scrolling through social media feeds, binge watching TV shows, playing video games some even out there creating content.

So, the other day I was driving from work and on the radio, they were talking about how the youth of today would do anything for content. The presenter started the show with his experience whereby a boy and a girl were sitting in a restaurant, taking turns for pictures of a plate of food before eating.

He further opened the lines and listeners shared their own experience with this trend. One listener called and said this trend is getting out of hand where “these kids” would go out of their way to make content at restaurants they can’t afford😊. So instead of buying food they would ask to take pictures with other customers plates just for content! I found this to be ridiculous but so true as many callers could relate to the story.

This then made me pay more attention to my surroundings when I go out and man-oh-man I saw it for myself. Firstly, I took Hubby to a nice restaurant in Westcliff for his birthday - I got a plug from TikTok (yeah, they plug we follow, LOL). When we got there, I notice these two young ladies taking pictures from all angles of the restaurant and getting assistance from the waiters as well to capture more pictures. I then saw a bowl of chips and tap water on their table and quickly realised that they are just here for “CONTENT” nothing else.

We then went for another birthday celebration with friends in Montecasino and around 9pm (during the week) walks in a group of teens looking good as ever for a late dinner. The minute they were allocated table seats, they all took out their phones and went wild. It felt like I was on a photoshoot of some sort. They ordered and took pictures with the food and shortly after that they asked for takeaways and the photoshoot continued outside.

TikTok plugs are a marketing tactic in which content creators promote a product or service within their TikTok videos. Now it is said that content creators must be verified or associated to a number of followers to work with brands.

TikTok plugs by non-verified influencers who are doing it for the love of content creation and building their profile can be a positive thing, as long as they are transparent about their intentions and their audience is receptive to the promotion. Many non-verified influencers are passionate about creating content and building their profile on social media platforms like TikTok. While they may not be getting paid directly for their work, they may still be interested in promoting products or services that align with their own values and those of their audience and in my personal view this is something that is overlooked by Marketers as they may not have the same reach or level of influence as their more well-known counterparts. However, this does not mean that non-verified influencers should be discounted or undervalued.

Non-verified influencers can be a valuable asset to brands looking to reach niche or local markets, as they may have a more engaged and dedicated following within their specific community and are more affordable for brands on a budget and may be more willing to work with brands on creative collaborations and partnerships.

What I love most about non-verified influencers is that they are more authentic and genuine and that helps them connect with their followers as they are often viewed as “real people” rather than polished and professional influencers. This can help to build trust and credibility with their audience and may lead to higher levels of engagement and conversion for brands.

Basically, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection has the potential to create and share content that can be seen by millions of people around the world. Furthermore, TikTok's algorithm often prioritizes content that is engaging, entertaining, and relatable, meaning that even people who have a relatively small following can still have their content seen by a wide audience if it resonates with TikTok's community.

With all of the above mentioned, what is this trend doing to the mental health? Content creation can have both positive and negative effects on the mental health of young people.

The pressure to produce and maintain a certain level of quality content can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout. This pressure may come from external sources, such as followers, sponsors, or brands, who expect a certain level of quality and consistency in the content. It can also come from internal sources, such as the desire to succeed, the fear of failure, or the need for validation.

The pressure to constantly create and maintain high-quality content can be particularly intense on social media platforms like TikTok, where the pace of content creation and consumption is fast and constant. The pressure to keep up with trends, create viral content, and maintain engagement with followers can be overwhelming and lead to burnout.