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Opinion

The Integration of Influencers into the ‘Mainstream’

In previous years we may have described social media and influencers as ‘non-traditional’ media outlets, away from the mainstream of television, magazines, and newspapers. Now, we are seeing the integration of influencers onto these platforms.

In 2018, we saw Joe Sugg, best known for his YouTube channel, feature as the first ‘social media star’ on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. YouTuber Saffron Barker followed in Joe’s footsteps the following year. This was a huge step for the inflluencer world, as Strictly Come Dancing attracts an average of around 10 million viewers per episode. With previous Strictly Come Dancing celebrity contestants including singer Emma Bunton, politician Ed Balls, Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, and many more household names – the producers of the show have more recently recognised a place for social media stars in the lineup. 

To those in the influencer marketing industry, it may seem like a no-brainer. If there is a social media star, like Joe Sugg, who has 7.71 million subscribers on YouTube, there is huge potential for them to bring a new, and large audience to a mainstream television show. Last year’s Strictly Come Dancing final gained the highest viewing figures in its history. Over 13 million viewers tuned into the show, which featured social media star HRVY as a finalist.

Channel Four, a popular UK television network, is also among those who have called on influencers and social media stars to feature in its listings. Most recently, Saffron Barker, following the success of her television debut on Strictly Come Dancing, appeared on Channel Four’s ‘The Circle’. The game show was a celebrity special, aired to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer, a UK-based charity. The social media star made it to the final and received lots of support from her fans online. The inclusion of Saffron in the show invited a new demographic to tune in, in turn, raising more money for cancer research.

Also for Stand Up to Cancer in 2020, YouTuber and now musician, KSI appeared on Channel Four’s ‘Gogglebox’. If you are not familiar with the show, the basic premise is that we, the viewers, watch other people watching television programmes from their living rooms – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Channel Four made a clever move by inviting KSI, also known as JJ, onto the show. He has 34 million subscribers who like to watch him on YouTube, and if even just a fraction of these were interested in seeing what KSI enjoys watching when he’s at home, the viewing figures were bound to boom. 

And for the cartoon lovers…

This week, to mark the 70th anniversary of Dennis The Menace, the creators behind the comics have announced that they are teaming up with Joe Sugg as part of a Beano special edition. The strip, titled ‘Birthday Prank-Ageddon’, will also star Joe’s girlfriend and Strictly Come Dancing star Dianne Buswell, and Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood. Despite Dennis The Menace launching seven decades ago, meaning it’s likely that the children of today aren’t even aware of the character, including an illustrated version of Joe Sugg in the special edition refreshes the comic and its audience. We may see Dennis The Menace become as exciting and relevant to children now, as it would have been to their grandparents seventy years ago. 

Noticing crossovers between influencer and traditional media such as these increases the recognition of social media and influencers as valuable sources of entertainment, with engaged audiences. What do you think will be next in regards to influencers moving into traditional media? We welcome your predictions, ideas, and opinion articles via our Typeform.

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