Elon Musk ‘Signal’ tweet & the age of influencers

Elon Musk Signal tweet

On Jan 7, 2021, Elon Musk gave a two-word app recommendation on Twitter. And all hell broke loose, as people scrambled to get on Signal. That’s Elon Musk for you!

The recent privacy issues regarding WhatsApp have initiated several debates, bringing telegram, signal & others into the conversation. However, this specific tweet & the events that followed are particularly interesting.

signal app

The wrong SIGNAL got lucky!

The tweet has had 369.5k likes & 66.5k re-tweets since. Meanwhile, the Signal app was downloaded 3.3 M times in the Jan. 5-11 period, compared with WhatsApp’s 1.7 M, according to Sensor Tower’s data. Another ‘Signal’ that benefited from the tweet was Signal Advance Inc., a US-based medical devices maker.

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Amidst the confusion, due to the similarity in the name, it has had a near 12000% stock boost! An unintended trickle-down effect so huge!!

While there’s no objective answer to whether such external influence benefiting companies is fair or not, the statement ‘influencers possess great power over the masses’ is an undisputed claim of the 21st century. This great power, however, does not necessarily come with responsibility.

We can vouch for this fact from celebrities endorsing products that they’re barely associated with, to teenagers through their Instagram & TikTok reach. Sadly, the massive benefits linked to this ‘open space’ for marketing outweigh the misinformation concerns.

To influence or to not influence?

“In today’s business and social world. if people aren’t talking about you, you are not relevant.” This quote by Ted Rubin speaks volumes & has negative as well as positive interpretations.

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The main factor in both being this- influencers’ social media accounts usually include both personal posts alongside paid-for promotions, and their credibility as an influencer is often tied to how genuine they appear to their followers.

Several trade regulations seek to promote transparency by trying to ensure that the consumers are able to distinguish between paid-for advertising and genuine editorial content but the differentiating line is hazy. 

Do we need influencers who fake it till they make it?

Currently, issues associated with buying followers, and the practice of boosting your following with fake followers isn’t covered in most legal frameworks for marketing practices. It is also important to consider what social media platforms and brands are doing to self-regulate.

influencer

For example, IG (Instagram) has started using ML (Machine learning) tools to identify accounts with fake followers. Instagram also provides special features like being able to add swipe up links to stories & posts for accounts with 10k+ followers or a verified status, a policy that certainly boosts the platform as a marketing channel.

As marketing by influencer continues to be a crucial & ever-growing strategy for brands, we are likely to witness better regulation or regulatory focus and scrutiny in the near future. 

How much of blind following is safe for society? How can smaller players compete with big brands without influencers & social media? Can accountability be incorporated in this age of influencers? are these the questions we are waiting to be answered.

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Yeesha Kalal
Yeesha grew up in a multi-background environment. She's a curious soul and a smart one too, especially when it comes to her academics as a sophomore at IIT, Bombay. Management runs through Yeesha's veins and the spirit of entrepreneurship is quite strong in her. Yeesha is also a pawsitive person coz she positively adores cute puppies and cuddly dogs.