My pitch to be an in­flu­encer

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion - JACK KNOX

News item: In a bid to in­crease the youth vote, Elec­tions Canada will spend $650,000 to en­list the help of 13 “in­flu­encers,” in­clud­ing so­cial me­dia stars, YouTu­bers, Olympians and a gamer, re­ports CTV.

I turned down the mu­sic (KTel’s 20 Power Hits) so that she could hear what I had to say: “I am go­ing to be a youth so­cial me­dia in­flu­encer.”

She paused. “Mommy blog­ging not work­ing out for you?”

I shook my head: “Too many duck-face self­ies. It hurts my cheeks.”

“You sure you qual­ify as an in­flu­encer?” she asked.

I bri­dled. “Of course. Just this week Ben Isitt blamed his trou­bles on ‘con­ser­va­tive political forces and their agents in the cor­po­rate me­dia.’ ”

She frowned. “I thought you were a pawn of the lib­eral elites.”

I slapped my fore­head. “It’s so hard to keep my me­dia con­spir­a­cies straight. Hon­estly, slip me 50 bucks and I’ll say what­ever you want.”

This is the heart of in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing: pay­ing for opin­ion. Get some­body with a soap­box and pay them for their heart­felt en­dorse­ment of what­ever you’re sell­ing, whether that be dish soap or democ­racy.

It used to be enough to get celebri­ties to do so in what was ob­vi­ously some­body else’s ad (BTW, Jell-O, what hap­pened to those Bill Cosby com­mer­cials?) but now it’s sub­tler, with the en­dorse­ment wo­ven into the in­flu­encer’s own brand, ca­su­ally in­serted among his or her other so­cial me­dia posts as though the

sen­ti­ment were com­ing from the poster’s in­ner­most soul, not wal­let.

Herd­ing your own per­sonal flock of sheep earns good money, too. Last year, a com­pany called Hop­per HQ es­ti­mated Kylie Jenner can fetch $1 mil­lion US for a single spon­sored post to her 137 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. Soccer star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo can score $750,000. Justin Bieber gets $650,000.

Note that the amount Biebs fetches for a single post equals Elec­tions Canada’s en­tire bud­get for the cam­paign in which those 13 in­flu­encers are meant to prod more young peo­ple to vote in Oc­to­ber’s fed­eral elec­tion. It’s un­cer­tain who you would get for that kind of money. A Maple Leafs star? A Rap­tors bench­warmer? Some­body from Schitt’s Creek? Rene Si­mard?

“Put me in, coach,” I said. “I’ll do it.”

“You sure you’re best-po­si­tioned to sway Canada’s youth?” she said.

“Yes,” I replied. “I’ll do so by go­ing in the other di­rec­tion, telling them they need not bother to vote.”

This strat­egy cap­i­tal­izes on my spe­cial gift: the anti-Mi­das touch. The hip fac­tor of any­thing with which I as­so­ciate my­self au­to­mat­i­cally plunges by a good 40 per cent.

I’m pretty sure it was my adoption of the spiffy golf shirt-and-khakis combo that killed Sears as a fashion brand. Stu­dio 54 went un­der af­ter I ducked in to use the wash­room. The owner of my bike shop im­plored me not to wear rid­ing kit bear­ing its logo; I agreed, for a fee. My form of in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing is more like ex­tor­tion.

This is the ap­proach I will take with my Leave It to Dad cam­paign aimed at young Cana­di­ans, the idea be­ing to alarm them into ac­tion.

“No need to cast a bal­lot,” will be the mes­sage. “We’ll do it for you.”

This will be con­veyed through so­cial me­dia posts like:

• “Don’t worry about cli­mate change and the ter­ri­fy­ing loss of bio­di­ver­sity. My gen­er­a­tion has got it cov­ered. Look, we banned plas­tic straws!”

• “Feel­ing so blessed to have got into the hous­ing mar­ket be­fore they pulled up the draw­bridge. Imag­ine pay­ing 7 1/2 times your fam­ily income for a home. #grat­i­tude #I’veGotMine”

• “Su­per-ap­pre­cia­tive of the gov­ern­ment’s cau­tious ap­proach to ride-hail­ing. On the other hand, I own two cars and am in bed by 9 pm LOL!!!”

• “So ex­cited about the plan to bring back com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice! For women, too! #gen­der equal­ity #Be­causeIt’s2019”

Just jok­ing about that last one, ju­nior. Or maybe not. Go look at the party plat­forms your­self to find out for sure.

As for Elec­tions Canada, maybe it should just stay out of things and leave it to the par­ties to do their own in­flu­enc­ing, to give young peo­ple rea­sons to get in­volved.

That’s the best way to mo­ti­vate vot­ers: Give them some­thing to vote for, or against.

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