Are We All Sick of Influencer Marketing Yet?

Over the past three years, Google searches for ‘influencer marketing’ have soared by 1,500%. Influencer marketing is projected to be a $10 billion industry by 2020. And with 63% of brands planning to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2019, this trend is showing no sign of slowing. But is there more going on under the surface? Are people growing bored of promotional #ad after promotional #ad. And are we tired of fake posts? Ultimately, are we all sick of influencer marketing yet?

Influencer Marketing is an Effective Tool

Influencer marketing has and continues to be a great success. 92% of marketers who have worked with influencers claim this to be an effective channel for boosting brand awareness across numerous platforms. For every $1 spent on influencer marketing businesses make an average of $5.20 in earned media value with some earning as much as $18. Of course, some firms lose too with 25% either losing money or just about breaking even. But, with careful planning results can be effective.

A survey of 3,600 shoppers from across the globe revealed that 61% interact with an influencer at least once a day, with men engaging with influencers slightly more than women. The most popular types of influencers followed were those in entertainment (47%), beauty (43%), celebrity (43%) and fashion (39%) across multiple platforms – the three most prominent being YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

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Influencer marketing is certainly hard to ignore. Interestingly, 4/5 globally surveyed consumers said they made a purchase recommended by an influencer through clicking on a link or image that was shared, while 88% of consumers surveyed have been inspired to purchase based on what they saw from an influencer. More specifically, 83% of US men are inspired this way, sitting just below women at 89%.

Influencer Marketing Pain Points

Influencer marketing has taken the world by storm and is undoubtedly effective for many companies. But there are cracks appearing. Consumer pain points are plentiful and are gradually changing the way influencer marketing is being used. Here’s a rundown of some of the issues which are making people tired of the #ad culture in which we live.

Sponsored Post Hashtags are “Annoying”

According to a study commissioned by UM as part of a Post-Influencer Culture report, 45% of social media users find sponsored post hashtags annoying rising to 55% for 18-24-year olds. This is significant considering 39% of active Instagram accounts with over 15K followers are influencers being used by brands to promote a wide range of products.

A continuous flood of posts over cramming social sites can be blamed. Engagement rates for sponsored posts fell to 2.4% in Q1 2019 from 4% three years earlier, while the rate for non-sponsored posts slid to 1.9% from 4.5% for the comparable periods.

Many posts are non-compliant

25% of consumers believe authenticity on social media to be “very important”. The problem is, non-compliant influencer marketing posts often dominate platforms like Instagram which in turn dents the reputation of social content. In a recent study of Influencer Marketing in 2019 by Influencer Marketing Hub in association with Viral Nation and NeoReach it was revealed that only 11% of influencers were compliant with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Capital Market Authority (CMA) guidelines. 2200+ posts were assessed in total.

One rule laid out by the FTC and the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is that influencers must clearly reveal brand endorsements and paid ads to avoid misleading consumers. Fyre Festival marketing from the likes of Kendall Jenner is one example of non-compliance. The star reportedly got paid $250,000 to advertise #Fyre yet did so without using #ad. And I think we all know how fyre festival turned out. The tweet below summed it up fairly well.

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Liability is a hot issue in the finance sector too and one that my team at Contentworks Agency is particularly watchful of.

Advertising seems fake

Fake news has made people more suspicious of the media. Also, astroturfing – marketing that looks authentic but is far from the real thing – is becoming increasingly common on social sites. Take a look at the below Twitter thread. This was apparently tweeted by a girl named Izzy who wanted to share her skincare woes but was actually posted by a corporation looking to sell a beauty product.

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Similarly, celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian have been called out by body positive activists including Jameela Jamil for pursuing campaigns that may pay well but are not genuine.

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How to Rock Influencer Marketing

So, while the industry is thriving, there are many elements that need to be addressed if you wish to run a successful campaign that won’t get on the nerves of your consumers. Here’s what to consider.

Work with Nano and Micro Influencers

Nano influencers have between 800-10,000 followers. Micro influencers have 10,000-50,000 followers. This is compared to macro influencers with 200,000- 900,000 followers and mega influencers with over one million. Statistics suggest working with influencers that have fewer followers is a safer bet than targeting celebs and others who are overrun with fans.

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According to analytics firm InfluencerDB, the engagement rate for Instagram influencers with at least 10,000 followers is steady at about 3.6% worldwide. Influencers with 5,000 to 10,000 followers have an engagement rate of 6.3% and those with a following of 1,000 to 5,000 have the highest rate at 8.8%, per InfluencerDB.

Nano and micro influencers are often more affordable and have more time on their hands to engage with products they find genuinely interesting. This improves content authenticity helping to develop consumer trust which in turn results in conversion.

Find your perfect match

67.6% of marketers consider finding relevant influencers their largest influencer marketing challenge. But it’s really important to find your perfect match. By collaborating with any influencer you can find, you run the risk of losing your morals, values and identity. The influencers you choose should have a strong connection and link to your product, yet their posts should not be in-your-face promotional. Travel influencer Maddie Brenneman was a good fit for US Bank advertising the #PowerofPossible and pursuing goals, a concept the bank was seeking to push through their services.

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 Think carefully about content

Consumers have preferred content types when interacting with influencers, so keep this in mind. 64%, for instance prefer video content with 61% favouring images and 38% enjoying written content the most. Varying your social posts will help to prevent annoyance and frustration among your audience which is already bombarded with an abundance of promotional posts each day. Remember to keep things light, fun and on brand. Avoid overly plugging your product or being too pushy with consumers as this is highly off-putting to a modern audience, particularly millennials.

Follow Insta updates

Quality content is also becoming even more important. This is because Instagram has recently kicked off tests to hide the number of ‘likes’ a user’s post receives. The idea is to make the platform a less competitive marketplace and to push people towards short videos in the form of Stories rather than static images. This is significant for marketers looking to work with influencers. Why? Well because ‘likes’ will no longer be a way to gauge the interaction rates of an influencer. Sure, you can still check out the number of followers, but paying close attention to the content posted is a must to see if it’s a good fit for your brand.

Take your time

You don’t have to jump in the deep end and shell out big bucks for an expensive influencer strategy. Instead, take your time to research those who are interested in your product – or reach out to those who may be. Don’t hold back from working with multiple influencers as this again helps you to develop a varied content strategy and will enable you to tap into different audiences.

Also, remember that influencer marketing doesn’t have to solely rely on money transactions. Asking an influencer to post branded content in return for a freebie or blog shout-out could seal the deal. It’s certainly worth trying to find what works in order to keep your outgoings to a minimum while securing great influencer relationships that can flourish with time.

Be real

Users are eagle eyed and ready to catch you out for fake posts, fake photos and fake news. Like this image below and its comments which call out the brand. The paid-for Instagram post from Scarlett Dixon (aka Scarlett London) promoting Listerine went viral on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Dixon’s post was first picked up by Twitter users on Friday, following a tweet that bemoaned its staged nature. The promotion was part of a campaign to promote the Johnson & Johnson-owned brand whitening mouthwash.

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Aim to take real photos, avoid excessive staging, posing or fake pancakes… cringe.

What do you think about influencers? Are you sick of influencer marketing? Tweet me @Charli_Says and let me know!