As a parent and businesswoman, I recently came to an important realization: influencer marketing is astonishingly powerful and I must pay attention to it. Because it is changing everything.
This all starts when I hear my teenage son giggling under the covers. He’s watching a video of a YouTuber called “Guava Juice.” I have never heard of him before, but apparently he counts millions of viewers (including my son) among his enthusiastic fanbase. Guava Juice is a social media influencer from the Philippines, and very popular with Hawaii’s Keiki.
What is a social media influencer?
A social media influencer is someone who has established authentic credibility in a specific industry or niche, and who has influence over others and has propelled regular people into “social media stardom” with powerful, engaged followings. They get courted by brands to promote on their social media channels because people trust them. In just a few hours, they can garner results that used to take mainstream marketing years to achieve.
Social media influencers have, in a sense, become the new celebrities. And influencer marketing is the new celebrity endorsement.
Think of it as word of mouth…on steroids.
Guava Juice, for example, attracts eager audiences with his over-the-top, silly videos. When my son will spend hours laughing at videos of Guava Juice taking baths in Sriracha, Skittles, and Doritos (notice the brands?). On a slow day, these videos average a whopping 4 million viewers. The marketing potential is undeniable.
Case in point: a week later, my son asks me for 10 bags of Doritos, so he and his friends can make a video. They create their own gaming channel. At the end of each video, they thank their two subscribers (each other) for following them, and ask their two viewers (themselves) to “like and subscribe!”
Clearly, my son has been influenced.
Since witnessing this, I have been on a mission to learn more about who our children are being influenced by, and how deep this influence goes.
When I first hit Google, I find an article by Hawaii Business Magazine. It references several business women who have built followings as social media managers. It is written from an agency perspective, and focuses on more main stream influencers in retail and fashion.
This is when I realize that no two influencers are created equal. There are influencers for every kind of niche with varying demographics, influence, and reach.
But my son and his friends don’t know who these women are. So I begin to wonder what this international phenomenon looks like at the local level. Who are the social media stars of Hawaii?
After a bit of research, I learn that the two most famous social media stars from Hawaii are influencers called Nigahiga and Bretman Rock. Their following is huge.
Nigahiga, now living in the mainland, has over 40 million combined followers.
And Bretman Rock, a teenager from Ewa Beach, has over 20 million. I personally don’t allow my children to watch Bretman Rock. The language and sexual content is just not appropriate for kids. But pushing these boundaries is precisely what catapulted him to success. And he is now reportedly pulling in $4000 to post a single photo.
But Nigahiga and Bretman Rock are just two participants in a network of social media influencers here.
The first locally based millennial entertainment page to build a name in Hawaii is called, appropriately, 808 Viral. It’s a group of influencers who collaborate on various outrageous comedy skits. Many of their challenge videos, such as “Mokes Try Vegan Food” and “Mystery Manapua,” have gone viral.
All of the kids, it seems, know about 808 Viral. And as a parent, I’m okay with that. I find them to be a nice group making an attempt to be more responsible when it comes to a younger audience. For example, they assisted a fellow parent in helping to diffuse a bullying issue. They have been speaking at schools and supporting community projects, That was a major plus for me. I still monitor their content, however, before letting my kids watch it.
Their popularity has resulted in enviable business partnerships. They recently received sponsorship from Hele Gas and Aloha Kia. Moreover, several of the 808 Viral members left to build solo “brands.” Pashyn, known for her viral video “Pidgin Siri,” has accumulated a following of over 100,000 followers.
808 Viral’s founder, Daniela Stolfi-Tow, has been working with Hawaii influencers for several years and has created a network of over 1.5 million followers. To date, her material has pulled in over 500 million views.
“Everyone started it just for fun and it just grew and grew. One day we were out shooting a video and groups of people surrounded us wanting photos. They knew all our names, and every video we had done. We were just looking at each other like, wow, is this really happening? It is pretty amazing that anyone can pick up a camera and go viral from their living room and become a star overnight.” said Stolfi-Tow
Other popular Hawaii social media influencers include mythical creature Mermaid Kariel. Her audience now totals over half a million followers who love to watch her breathtaking underwater adventures.
Bretman Rock’s sister Princess (@maelovecleo) has her own channel totaling over 450k, even her 2 year old daughter Cleo has 100,000 fans. Both have several clothing sponsors. Little Cleo has even learned to catwalk from her Uncle Bretman.
Alex Farnham (channel name Mockstars) was so successful he moved to California and has been in several comedy movies and parody videos with millions of views. He most recently can be seen in the Mike’s Hard Lemonade commercials.
I found myself cracking up giggling under the covers as I watched all these videos. I realize that my son isn’t the only one in my house who has been influenced. #lol
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