“Authenticity.” If one keyword should summarize the roundtable «Les Influenceurs. Une plongée dans les pratiques et cultures numériques» taking place on 13 October at the University of Luxembourg, “authenticity” would be it.
The event gathered some of the more renowned influencers in Luxembourg: the model and family lifestyle influencer Natascha Bintz, the make-up artist Luca de Michele, the TV chef, and cookbook author Anne Faber and the former TV and radio host “Studio Ben,” today creative director of Mosquito agency, Ben Olinger. The moderators were Prof. Valérie Schafer (UL) and the digital curator of the Luxembourg Web Archive at the BnL, Ben Els.
The roundtable participants discussed their work, audience and business model, the Luxembourg digital landscape,the platforms and algorithms, and the thin line between private and public life.
Not influencers, but content creators
The participants highlighted that they didn’t feel comfortable with the “influencer” label. They preferred to call themselves “content creators.” For Natasha Bintz being an influencer, “it’s not a job title; it’s a title that the audience gives you.”
For Anne Farber, her role as “content creator” best defines her work, in which she can see the impact of her training as a journalist. For her, Social Media means using another broadcast platform, which has given her more freedom, away from budget constraints from traditional media.
Emotions, key to engaging with the audience
During the event, the participants discussed their relationship with the audience and agreed on the importance of engagement over the number of followers. And how is it possible to engage with the audience on different platforms with ever-changing algorithms?
Ben Olinger, creator of the video “America first, Luxembourg second,” which has been, until today, the most viewed YouTube video from Luxembourg, explained that from the point of view of someone working with a client perspective since he decided not to be at the forefront anymore. For him, it’s clear: “Emotions are more important than any statistics, ” an idea that relates to the importance of authenticity mentioned by the other participants. They all stressed the importance of staying true to themselves as the only way to produce quality content that the audience can identify with and trust.
Link to the trust and engagement, Luca de Michele explained that he tests himself on all the products he advertises on his Social Media platforms. Otherwise, he wouldn’t promote them.
Clients and Luxembourg advertisement ecosystem
All the participants agreed in stating that monetarizing their job has not been an easy task in Luxembourg, mainly due to the reluctance of the clients to pay for their services for several reasons, and notably due to a market that still prioritizes word-to-mouth and traditional media advertisement. Another point they raised is that there is no market rate or collective to protect the job of influencers.
Carmen Noguera (PhD student at C2DH)
The event was co-organized by the National Library of Luxembourg (BnL) and the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH) at the mark of the research project Hivi (History of Online Virality).