The leading Spanish business newspaper, Expansión, has published an article (click to read in Spanish) written by Jacobo Zelada, apple tree communications Partner and Digital Director, in which he analyses the important role social media influencers play for brands and the direction that communication with this audience needs to take in order for brands to achieve genuine brand recommendation by consumers.

Few people know who Felix Arvid or Rubén Doblas are, but practically everyone knows PewDiePie and El Rubius. For anyone who continues to resist the influencer revolution, Felix is the YouTuber with the most followers in the world (54.4 million subscribers on YouTube) and Rubén is third in the same ranking (23.7 million subscribers).

Having more than 20 million subscribers on YouTube is like having the largest ever television audience in Spain at your disposal every single day (the achievements of the Spanish National Football Team in recent years reached audiences of between 15 and 18 million viewers). This made it possible for his video “Pikachu es Dios” or “Pikachu is God” to get more than 34 million views, prompting many of us to ask ourselves if the whole world has gone completely mad.

The incredible boom for these “digital” opinion leaders has been accompanied by a considerable increase in the collaboration with brands who have identified a new channel of influence and recommendation with their consumers.

The spread of sponsored posts and promotional campaigns that obscure the commercial nature of the content and the controversies caused by some collaborations make many experts believe that the influence “bubble” is about to burst.

However, many others believe that we are looking at the holy grail of marketing: recommendation and authentic influence on a grand scale. Technology has turned us all into both consumers and creators at the same time, and brands now have the possibility of working with hundreds of influencers who have an authentic relationship with them. The influence within a community or “micro-influence” is beginning to be used more and more and we are seeing that conversation, trust and suggestive marketing environment among consumers can be cultivated in a sustainable way.

The solution is based on greater transparency and authentic collaborations in which influencers do not act merely as advertising spaces. The flow of influence is based on the economy of trust between the influencer and their audience and therefore paid collaborations should respect this relationship if they want to achieve something unique and revolutionary in the history of marketing: genuine word of mouth on a large scale.