The idea that influencer marketing is either dead or dying has been around for quite a while now.
Google results for such a query show a remarkable number of articles discussing the reasons why this marketing strategy is losing its power, and who and what is responsible for such a downward spiral.
Even though this prediction seems premature and exaggerated, the reasons behind its supposed death can teach us a valuable lesson. They tell us a story about which traps to avoid and what to focus on when we’re planning our next influencer marketing campaign.
Here are the 10 most common suspects to blame for its possible demise.
01. No guarantee for ROI
Some marketers claim that investing in influencer marketing doesn’t give brands any guarantees for ROI.
The idea that the followers of some of the top YouTube or Instagram stars will rush and buy products just because the influencers are using them, and then spread the hype about the purchase with their friends, often doesn’t deliver the expected results.
Brands are beginning to understand that the number of followers doesn’t mean much and that they can get more results by forming meaningful relationships directly with their customers.
02. It can be expensive
On the other hand, for a strategy that gives no guarantees for ROI, influencer marketing can be quite expensive.
Influencers in the beauty industry are charging six figures to voice their opinions on the latest beauty product. Even those who just started can command a couple of hundreds to a few thousand dollars.
The price of a single sponsored Instagram post can most often be determined by the number of followers influencer has – $100 for every 10.000 followers or $10,000 for one million followers.
Once such commissions are reached, they can hardly be negotiated down.
03. You can’t be sure about the influence
It’s hard to be certain of the effect an influencer has on their followers’ base once you decide to trust them with your money, and the promotion of your product – the fact that they are good at entertaining their followers doesn’t mean that they have any kind of power over their purchasing behavior.
Furthermore, the follower base can often respond negatively when it comes to the sponsored content influencers are providing.
04. Confusing messages
Sometimes, sponsored posts can be too confusing for their followers, as they are not coherent with their personality or their previous behavior.
An influencer campaign by Snickers featured the former glamour model Katie Price, whose followers even thought her account was hacked after she posted tweets way out of her character, followed by her photo with a tag line “You’re not you when you’re hungry”.
The campaign got negative coverage in the media, possibly harming both parties.
05. Bad influence
A brand can suffer negative consequences from its collaboration with influencers too.
Ideally, when you work with an influencer, you expect their values to intertwine with the values of your brands. Still, it doesn’t have to be the case.
Homophobic, sexist, racist or otherwise problematic comments coming from a brand’s paid spokesperson can put a brand in trouble, and seriously damage its reputation.
One of the examples of influencer marketing gone wrong is the downfall of once-popular PewDiePie from Sweden, caused by laughingly reacting to a sign “Death to All Jews” in a YouTube video, leading to instant firing by Disney-owned Mark studios.
06. Rise of micro-influencers
However, brands are becoming aware of the great power micro and nano-influencers can have over their target audience.
One of the advantages this word-of-mouth strategy has over global influencers is its reliability- satisfied customers who spread the news about their positive experience with the brand with their friends and families in an authentic manner can bring companies more benefits than a paid influencer.
A digital magazine Week in China also stresses the importance of simple and soft promotional messages on Weibo and microblogs for sparking the interest of a brand’s customer base, having an effect similar to that of direct marketing.
07. Influencer frauds
Not all influencers have respect for ethical standards when it comes to their business. Some claim that 25% of influencers use dishonest business models and base their popularity on fake followers, bots and frauds.
Certain companies, such as Unilever, are firm about not buying into influencers with fake follower bases. Such a decision came after they’ve been ranked among the top ten brands using paid influencers with fake or bot followers.
08. Excess of sponsored content
Consumers may start with trusting an influencer because of their authenticity, but after too many sponsored posts, they can simply lose this trust.
Some influencers aren’t too picky when it comes to the products they’re promoting. Sometimes, they put aside their values and morals, as long as the collaboration with a brand comes with a fat paycheck. This sheds a different kind of light on an individual and results in distrust among followers, and finally, their abandonment.
09. The H-Hub
Some of the marketers see the H-Hub as a better alternative and a threat to influencer marketing.
This connected community of photographers can now be accessed by companies that are looking for the best creators for their branded content.
The H-Hub empowers its creators with engagement metrics, emphasizing quality over quantity and helping them pair with brands authentically.
10. Instagram’s new feed
There were some claims that Instagrams’ feed algorithm, presented in 2016, marks the beginning of the end of influencer marketing, at least as we knew it.
At that time, it seemed that there was no reason for the way the content was displayed to users and that the brands couldn’t be certain whether their influencers’ posts would be seen by the followers.
However, the algorithm change works at marketers’ advantage – influencers’ posts that have good engagement are displayed at the top of users’ feeds. Furthermore, the followers that engage with their content actually see more of their content.
So if you’re planning to include influencer marketing in your next digital campaign, think twice. Sometimes you can achieve better results by putting a spotlight on your genuine customers instead. Otherwise, make sure the influencer you’re paying can really contribute to your brand’s growth and promotion.
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