Influencer Marketing: A Phony Industry Based On False Premises?


Nov 10, 2016
Influencer Marketing: A Phony Industry Based On False Premises
by Enrique Dans,
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 ...


Apr 22, 2016
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 :)
Jul 11, 2019
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.

Julia Sta Romana

Top Poster Of Month
May 2, 2017
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.

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