Television network E! Asia has set the media industry abuzz with announcement of its original production called Wendy versus the World premiering tomorrow. The show stars controversial Singaporean blogger Wendy Cheng, or better known as Xiaxue, who attracts more than 40,000 daily readers across the world and has more than 1 million followers on social media.
Cheng, on the show, will be talking about her experiences as a working mother. Cheng is not the only influencer to cross over from the world of digital to traditional TV. During the Adobe summit, movie star George Clooney also mentioned that Hollywood too has been impacted with the rise of influencers. He explained that there has been a rising phenomenon where movie stars have been selected based on the number of following they have in the world of digital.
With digital now playing a more prolific role in our lives, it is safe to say that influencers such as Xiaxue are now the new-age celebrities who entertain consumers on a daily basis. Speaking to Marketing, Nik Vyas, content practice lead, Publicis Media, Singapore said influencers are undoubtedly the new celebrities and it not a surprise to see media companies tapping them to boost ratings. He said:
Regardless of what you may think about the attention hungry-antics of some influencers, many have built substantial followings organically.
Vyas added their social platforms allow regular interaction and conversations with their followers, which makes them accessible, relateable and authentic. This wide reach makes them an attractive proposition for media companies.
Mikael Christenson, head of Mindshare Content+ lauded the move saying it was smart of traditional players to pick up the trend of inviting influencers mainstream. He added media companies have been creating, shaping and leveraging celebrities and influencers for a really long time. What is different today is that through digital and social media , media companies can get a lot more detail on which celebrities or influencers are most popular to which target groups.He added:
Although traditional celebrities still have as large clout in many cases, they do not necessarily have as strong digital ecosystems and fan followings that they are in direct, and always on dialogue with.
Moreover, social influencers also enable traditional channels to compliment their own offerings by reaching out to an audience who may have declining TV habits.
Agreeing with him is Ryan Lim, founder of QED consulting said that media companies have capitalised on this on a mutually beneficial level hence making the relationship a symbiotic one. With more influencers getting on the mainstream medium, a proper code of conduct and ethics must be put in place, otherwise the purpose is lost.
When asked about the rising trend of influencers going mainstream, a spokesperson from Mediacorp said:“When a programme is on air, our audiences not just watch it but also share their experience via social media. Watching a programme becomes a much more fun, involved experience."