Writer Julia Soeder talks about how the more famous an influencer gets, the less relatable they become.
Relatable Influencers’ Inherent Failure: Becoming Famous
Fame is the kryptonite of social media’s relatable influencers. These creators amass millions of followers by digging into niches and inviting others to join them. While effective for trying to gain like-minded followers, it can create an inescapable box around the influencer.
Emma Chamberlain amassed an army of over 12 million Youtube subscribers by allowing fans into the brain of a coffee-obsessed teenager who loved to shop at thrift stores and bake — sometimes successfully — in her mom’s kitchen.
Vloggers such as The ACE Family made millions off of having the camera become part of their family, documenting everything from their kids’ births to morning routines to pranks.
Brittany Broski, the woman behind the kombucha meme, has revolutionized the filter-free comedic TikTok videos that feel more like a private FaceTime call with a friend than a video meant for 7.4 million followers.
All of these influencers were able to garner large audiences by showing parts of their personalities others could also see themselves in. It was a break from the glammed-up celebrity world and a chance for ordinary people to have their day in the sun. But with fame built on being relatable to so many comes the risk of losing the image tying these people to their audiences.
Influencers like The ACE Family, Chamberlain and Broski have become the billboards of tomorrow. Gone are the days where kids would circle what they wanted for Christmas in the Target catalog that came to their mailbox — now, kids will scratch down ideas from their favorite TikTok creators, who are actors in the newest form of advertising.
The outreach of influencers can’t be understated, with the industry’s marketing being assessed at $16.4 billion in 2022, according to Harvard Business Review. Companies aim to get macro and micro influencers to endorse their products to the public through ads. User-generated content has taken over marketing strategies for over 56% of brands, according to Forbes.
Companies like to latch on to relatable influencers because their followers feel like they are a part of a community where there is a level of trust between them and their favorite creator. It feels more like a big sister recommending something rather than a celebrity trying to sell a never-tested product.
The problem is that what drew companies into these creators in the first place is harmed by branded content. Once influencers become taken over by sponsorships, the relationship begins to feel superficial.
It can feel hard for people to relate to a family vlogger living in a million dollar home in Los Angeles, driving a Tesla and throwing birthday parties that have too many zeroes attached to the price tag. Successful family vloggers such as The ACE Family are able to afford this lifestyle due to the money gained from followers who began supporting them because of their shared values.
So what are fans meant to do when the influencers who represented their lifestyle have outgrown their shell?
Chamberlain can’t be expected to accurately represent what it’s like to be a typical young girl who loves coffee and thrifting after being seen at fashion weeks around the world. The ACE Family can’t be expected to continue living in their cozy living room where followers watched their first daughter grow up when the money they make allows for the home of their dreams. Brittany Broski can’t be expected to only post the same style of videos aimed at gaining a laugh because people aren’t that one dimensional.
Brands and people want relatable influencers — but the formula doesn’t add up. What makes relatable influencers famous in the first place isn’t something that can be sustained so long as they continue to grow and evolve as both people and content creators. These influencers are set with the unattainable task of continuing to bolster their careers while also remaining equals to the common person.
The new mission impossible is trying to stay relatable while becoming famous.
Feature image by Aidan Cahill / The Phoenix