Barak Libai, IDC Herzliya
The Rise and Fall of Influencers: Evidence from Social Trading
We advocate a dynamic view of influencers, considering them in a diffusion-like manner as products adopted over time by their followers. Social media influencers’ growth would be thus analogous to that of a new, continuously consumed product that grows and declines with followers’ acquisition and churn. We further argue that influencers’ growth could be depicted by an asymmetric bell-shaped curve in the number of followers, with a steeper rise than fall. It is consistent with a chain of effects that includes heterogeneity in churn at the follower cohort level, changes in follower duration over the influencer’s life cycle, and a decrease in follower churn over time. We observe these dynamics by examining the life cycle of influencers of a leading social trading platform, where individuals interact and follow others’ trading. Similar to the case of new products, recognizing the shape and dynamics of growth can be essential for predicting, launching, valuing, and managing influencers. Hence, the shift toward a dynamic view should be of much interest both to brands working with the fast-growing world of influencers and to the influencers themselves.