Television started with scripted entertainment sprinkled in with news. In recent years, television took in reality shows, which were “easier” and less expensive to produce. In the wild west of the internet, the evolution seems to be in reverse. People created real profiles of themselves and of their own real lives, but some creatives realized that there was an opportunity to drive higher engagement with scripted content.
LonelyGirl15 was a web diary launched in June of 2006 about the increasingly strange occult life of teenager Bree. It was outed as scripted a few months later, led to a production company deal for the creators, over 300 million lifetime views, and international stardom for Jessica Rose the actor playing Bree.
Over 15 years later from the original scripted influencer, entertainment company FourFront is coming out with its own scripted influencers on TikTok. The 22 influencers are all connected and have already amassed close to 300 million views in its short life span. Similar to network television, the influencers all cross promote each other driving one’s traffic into anothers. And unlike LonelyGirl15, the producers have been upfront about its fictionality.
Higher Production Value
After the bombshell reports of social media causing burnout and depression, scripted content might be the answer social media users are looking for. With a team of creatives and lots of prize money to give away, influencers like Mr Beast spend upwards of $300,000 per video. Although Mr Beast’s videos are technically not scripted, keep in mind that even reality shows do retakes and camera angles to tell the best story.
All Content is Scripted
Even “real” influencers are not 100% real. HBO’s show Fake Famous depicted how some influencers “fake it til they make it.” “They fake all-expenses paid, free camping trips, so that later they can get a free, all-expense paid camping trip,” Bilton said in the film. “They fake hiking in the Redwoods so they can try and get free hiking gear and sponsorships. They fake free upgrades to first class or trips on private planes.” And some people fake sponsorships just to be cool. “People pretend to have brand deals to seem cool,” Allie, a 15-year-old lifestyle influencer, said. “It’s a thing, like, I got this for free while all you losers are paying.”
Scripted by Machines
Then as we previously discussed, there’s AI. Many new influencers are created for the sole purpose of being an influencer. Utilizing 3D modeling, artificial intelligence, and some inputs from creative agencies, AI influencers are also scripted, fake robots that show up in your social media feed.
With the amount of time that users are spending on social media sites, it is inevitable that social media influencers are becoming media companies. And like today’s media companies there is a variety of content on there, from reality, to news, to scripted entertainment, to machine generated entertainment. An example is Logan Paul, a YouTube influencer, who is no stranger to controversy, has gone from Twitter’s short video service, Vine, to Law & Order guest appearances to the Suicide Forest controversy to a boxing career.
It might seem like there is no shortage of influencers out there, but on the flip side, there are also many writers who are looking for an audience. As an influencer, why not give it a chance? Dust off your acting chops, recruit some friends, get a $30 ring light; lights, camera, action. While it might be a hard jump to go from what you are doing today to scripted or machine generated entertainment, keep it in mind for your programming mix as audiences are fickle and need constant change.