It’s that time of year again. The kids are going back to school, and whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or the last semester of college, they all need back-to-school supplies. Stores and name brands in clothing and office supplies are out on social media in full force to help students pick that perfect top and matching pencil case.
Back-to-school sales are nothing new. Every store has them, and they’re advertised all over each brands social media accounts. Some take it a step further by creating giveaways and contests where you “like” or “tweet” them to enter and win. All these tactics are fine and well, but does it translate into more notebooks bought? In this case, new clothes and supplies for school become a necessity, and retailers expect a boost in sales at this time every year. The market has become not a question of if they’re going to buy, but what are they going to buy?
It’s that age old question. Who are the social influencers deciding what your kids want to get in order to impress their friends at school? Believe it or not, it’s not the clothing or school supply brands, or the retailers, or even celebrities. It’s the girl with the fashion / makeup / relationship video blog your kids are watching online who decide what they need for that oh so important first day of school. You should never underestimate the power of a 14-year-old girl or a twenty something showing off on YouTube all the super cute stuff they just got at Target.
These videos, Tumblr pages, and Pinterest posts full of real people’s purchases are the best shopping guides ever made. Its hundreds or thousands of trendy young people letting millions of others know the awesome deal they just got on that perfect pair of jeans, and they have no problem with naming brand names and telling you where they like to shop. Brands and marketers have yet to capitalize on all this literally free publicity.
We live in a time where someone with a webcam, basic knowledge of iMovie or Photoshop, and an opinion on anything can be a moderate to huge internet sensation. Kids these days have become so “camera ready” that they already know to not say anything too inflammatory online to avoid getting ridiculed by their peers, or worse, turned into a meme. They also know the art of proper lighting and acoustics in a room to best present whatever they have to say to an online audience.
These are all things brands pay ad agencies for. We should use these self-promoters who promote their favorite things; because one person’s post about their favorite backpack is a brand’s extra few hundred sales. Whether its back-to-school supplies, or makeup, or what they had for breakfast, those with followings and fans on their YouTube pages and other social media accounts are the influencers of this generation. But more importantly, those millions of people watching them are buying what they are inadvertently selling.