What is a ‘social media influencer’?

Feifei: Hi Neil, you look stressed? Neil: Oh, not really. Just writing a script for The English We Speak. I'm a bit stuck. Feifei: What's the phrase? Neil: Social media influencer. Feifei: Well, that's easy. Neil: Maybe for someone young and trendy like you! Go on then, tell me. Feifei: Let me talk you through it step-by-step. Well, you know social media? Neil: Of course! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… Feifei: A social media influencer is someone who has a lot of followers online – and who is an expert or authority in a particular subject – like photography or cookery or make-up. Neil: OK. Feifei: What that person says, or does, or buys, or wears… can influence the decisions of their followers! Which is why we call them 'social media influencers'. Or simply, 'influencers'. Neil: OK, I have a few followers. So if I start, say, growing a long moustache, and all my friends copy me – would you say I was a social media influencer? Feifei: Err…

I suppose so! And then, what might happen is the marketing department of a company selling moustache products gets in touch – and pays you to start using their moustache oil? Neil: OK. I like the sound of this. Grow a moustache and get paid. Let's listen to some examples. Our company was finding it hard to reach new customers aged 16 to 25. Then we hired a few social media influencers and sales just rocketed. Kylie Jenner is one of America's biggest social media influencers. Companies pay her up to a million dollars for a single post! There's a lot of debate about whether or not influencers should be open about who is paying them to promote products. Feifei: You're listening to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. Our expression is 'social media influencer'. So, Neil, how's the script going? Neil: I'm not writing it any more, Feifei.

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I'm focussing full time on my new business. Feifei: Ah, I see you've grown a moustache. Are you going to post a picture so all your twenty followers can see it and be influenced by your amazing style? Neil: Don't worry, I've realised I don't have enough followers, or authority, to influence anyone, Feifei. But I have discovered there's a gap in the market for organic moustache oil! Feifei: Oh, well done! Neil's Marvellous Moustache Oil… Neil: Nice. Now, I just need to find an influencer to help me with marketing. A hairy influencer. Feifei: Good luck, Neil! Neil: Bye. Feifei: Bye..

As found on YouTube

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