Social Influencers, Celebrities Roles in Leveraging Brands

It is no doubt that social media presence is crucial for modern businesses. As an entrepreneur, social media acts as a free resource to engage with consumers and build up personal brands. For those who have mastered the art of social media, like influencers and celebrities, the development of personal product lines and other business opportunities are more than accessible.

“Because of this direct relationship between follower and influencer, a global marketplace has developed between brands and social media stars buying and selling their influence over the millions of constituents they react with on a daily basis,” notes Forbes. Influencers can leverage their personal brand in the businesses they become involved in, but is an entrepreneurial mindset crucial to this development?

Well, not exactly, for perception is really what matters. A lot of the success of celebrity entrepreneurs can be attributed to not only brand recognition but also believability, says Alexander McKelvie, associate dean for undergraduate and master’s education and professor of entrepreneurship at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

“They can expand their brand because people trust them, and from there they can develop their expertise. The more influential people get invitations even though they are not experts, but are viewed as having expertise,” he adds.

McKelvie says this has changed with people being known just as influencers. Think of the Kardashians, who are primarily famous for just being the Kardashians, yet have been able to create and be involved in several kinds of businesses. McKelvie shares, “This is because it is not about them running the business, but them being put in the role where they would be the most successful. The more famous people are spokespeople.”

When it comes to the product lines developed or endorsed by the influencers, matching them to one’s personal brand and audience is key. Wendy Nguyen, a fashion blogger on YouTube, told the Wall Street Journal, “I think if items do not match my own brand it doesn’t feel authentic to my audience. And I think audiences are extremely smart and they know when you’re promoting something that’s not authentically what you would use.”

With this, McKelvie says it is important to understand the target market you are trying to connect to. He adds, “Finding the right area of influence matters. Someone might be famous to one group but not another, such as how Gen Z might be more affected by seeing people their own age.”

While the average digital entrepreneur may not be an “influencer” per se, keeping these principles of believability, authenticity and reachability in mind can certainly go a long way in capitalizing on a social media presence.

Whitman faculty study various topics in entrepreneurship. Read some of their latest research briefs

Julia Fiedler
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