Influencer Marketing: A Phony Industry Based On False Premises?

djbaxter

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Influencer Marketing: A Phony Industry Based On False Premises
by Enrique Dans, Forbes.com
July 17, 2019

There’s never been a better time for a debate about influencer marketing: Google says searches for the term “influencer” are through the roof; there are supposed influencers with millions of followers unable to sell 36 t-shirts , while others sell even their bath water. All this would suggest to brands that advertising as they knew is dead, and that from now they need to spend their time trawling through Instagram or hiring any number of shady agencies until they find somebody willing to sell their name for them.

There is talk of 83% growth in a so-called industry built on false metrics, trivial and absurd premises, and distorted mechanisms. The social networks are filled with imaginary people whose followers, likes and comments are paid for and who have absolutely zero influence; while we are being exhorted to fight fake activity and introduce algorithms to detect it; at the same time as the need to tie influencers to contracts to ensure they comply with the number and frequency of mentions stipulated in them. Then there are the cases of influencers with unsavory associations or who are just idiots getting brands intro trouble, metrics that don’t add up, saturated social networks and fatigued users… this is not what influence is about. Notching up a certain number of followers, comments and likes on a social network is not influence; it just means that a certain number of people are prepared to follow your activities, for whatever reason. It doesn’t mean that they trust you, that they think your criteria are reliable or that they are willing to do what they are told, unless they are complete idiots ...
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VirtualGlobalPhone

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SO true and eyeopening article. Probably the companies which made it big is when the whole "Influencer" market started.

Now everyone want to use :) so the result is other side of the COIN of TRUTH :)
 
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The company that purchased my company last fall paid influencers thousands of dollars each month to theoretically promote their brands and from my observation got little or nothing in return. The "influencers" did little more than name drop and tell everyone on the staff how important they were. It was their money to spend but from my observation it was not a good investment of their marketing/advertising money. Sales certainly did not go up because of it. Granted I only watched this for roughly 6 months while the ownership of my company was transitioned to them so it's a small test window but I never saw anything positive coming out of it. I'd be hard-pressed to spend any of my own marketing dollars on influencers.
 
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Having worked with some influencers, I agree with this a lot of points in this article BUT I don't think influencer marketing is totally phony.

I think that a lot of the problems people have with influencer marketing stems from people not knowing how to use influencers and at what point they should be used in your marketing funnel.

Most people only look at reach or followers when it comes to shopping for influencers. What they should be looking for is conversion and/or engagement. That's a more accurate reflection of the 'influence' these people have.

And in most cases, you either use influencers to expand your reach (those with over 10k followers) and micro influencers (industry expects and niche influencers) for specific campaigns.

And when shopping for influencers that can really sell your brand, it's best to look at your loyal customer base first before going elsewhere.

I agree that a lot of "influencers" have used false metrics to beef up their numbers just so they can get marketing contracts. These people are just out to get a quick buck. But I've also seen influencers who are serious marketing machines who present solid strategies when they enter projects.

It's easy to get into the hype of influencer marketing because hype is what they do best. But hype, when used wisely and channeled in the right direction, can work. You just need to do A LOT of homework before going into it.
 

Ortus

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so negative lol. I love it :)

Edward Bernays (father of public relations) covered this in his 1928 book Propaganda.

* You target influencers, you don't pay them.
* You lobby politicians, you don't pay them.
* You bait journalists, you don't pay them.

If there's a bunch of people that do reviews on your kind of product, then you should send them your product for free and let them do an honest review.

Honesty and Transparency are fundamental success principles, and paying influencers is not only shady but it gives those influencers a palpable insincerity.

As far as fake influencers, I agree with Julia, doing some research is critical. For example, looking at the top comments on their content. If there are a bunch of genius and very funny comments then it's probably not bots or outsourced, but a real audience. If there are no or few genius comments, then the audience is probably small or fake.
 

VirtualGlobalPhone

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Ortus , Interesting view, and thoughts. Nowadays the expression of honesty is too quick let it be in any review website or from an influencer tweet is it not?
 

Ortus

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Ortus , Interesting view, and thoughts. Nowadays the expression of honesty is too quick let it be in any review website or from an influencer tweet is it not?
Oh yah. You're right. It is really hard to tell who is honest these days. I've come across people that seem very genuine, that sell a course, and then only months later I find out they've faked some of their reviews. So you can't always tell.

I imagine though if you do a bunch of podcast interviews, or get your product out to a bunch of reviewers, some of them should be honest by the law of large numbers and since you're not bribing them it's more feasible. I would not risk an intermediary company doing this.

If you had to pay the influencers, affiliate and commission based systems take out the risk of fake influencers, so long as it's not paying people for traffic to your site (which would incentives them to create bots), but paying them a commission on sales that used their coupon code. I keep seeing people push skillshare and square space in youtube videos, so I think those companies are doing that well. This would require using a payment system that could handle this, and possible restrategizing if refunds spike.

Yah, so after thinking about it some more it's probably better to use low risk strategies like above that don't force you to figure out which influencers are fake and which are real.
 

VirtualGlobalPhone

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Today customer purchase decision is 'Emotional' and 'influential'. So u can't ignore for sure...

So... Fake it til you make it..... :)
 

chesterlaw

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so negative lol. I love it :)

Edward Bernays (father of public relations) covered this in his 1928 book Propaganda.

* You target influencers, you don't pay them.
* You lobby politicians, you don't pay them.
* You bait journalists, you don't pay them.

If there's a bunch of people that do reviews on your kind of product, then you should send them your product for free and let them do an honest review.

Honesty and Transparency are fundamental success principles, and paying influencers is not only shady but it gives those influencers a palpable insincerity.

As far as fake influencers, I agree with Julia, doing some research is critical. For example, looking at the top comments on their content. If there are a bunch of genius and very funny comments then it's probably not bots or outsourced, but a real audience. If there are no or few genius comments, then the audience is probably small or fake.
Love those 3 points! Would you recommend the Propaganda book in general? Or are there only a few nuggets of wisdom that it's not worth the time?
 

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