Since the initial introduction of the Influencer to the world of marketing, it has been viewed as one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways for brands to drive awareness and expand their audience. The concept of using trusted personas to sell to consumers who already have some level of affinity for those who are selling to them, made perfect sense and seemed to be an almost fool-proof strategy to gain brand awareness. But as Influencer Marketing has evolved, it has become more complex and more expensive.
One of the most prominent issues within Influencer Marketing is over-saturation. Being paid to post to social media has become the new “American dream”, so as the trend has emerged, everyone with an Instagram account has attempted to capitalize on it.
There are far too many accounts attempting to gain influencer status. Many of these aspiring influencers may have the follower count to support their status, but lack the key trait that is essential to securing returns on investment — actual influence. The value of influencer marketing relies on the credibility and relationship that an influencer has with their audience. This has caused brands to shift their focus to micro and nano influencers, because consumers trust opinions and recommendations from sources they deem personal and authentic — real people.
High follower count isn’t always congruent with high engagement. Far too many Instagram accounts have inflated follower numbers when compared to the actual reach they offer. These inflated follower counts could be considered “empty calories” with high percentages of the follower accounts being inactive, un-engaged, or simply being paid-for-bots. All of which are worthless to a brand that is trying to generate a thriving and authentic online community.
Cybersecurity firm Cheq estimates that businesses lost 1.3 billion dollars to Influencer Fraud in 2019, so it’s imperative that when laying out your Influencer Marketing strategy, you’re able to identify the right influencers to get significant value out of your investment. Luckily, the industry is now recognizing the most efficient and cost-effective path forward, which is building more authentic online brand communities.
The Best Way To Work With Influencers
In the past there’s been no true industry standard for how much influencers get paid per post. Traditionally, companies have roughly estimated the value of an influencers reach based off of their follower count, which we now know can’t quite be trusted.
While companies used to develop relationships directly with their individual influencers, the landscape of Influencer marketing has shifted to a more reliable model, where influencers are working with agencies to find the right brands for them, and vice versa. This new system is much more efficient and reliable for companies and brands as they’re making more manageable payouts to the influencers with a more certain guarantee of the reach and engagement they’ll be receiving in return. In turn, this has developed a new industry standard for how this form of advertisement should be conducted.
What will Influencer Marketing look like beyond 2020?
Despite the recent discoveries of a few glaring flaws, there is still value in to be found in Influencer Marketing. However, like all forms of advertisement, it should be conducted with focus, strategy, and efficiency. As consumers trust traditional advertising less and less, it’s important to look at how to solve the issues within influencer marketing, like effectiveness and fraud. The most authentic way to get people to talk about your brand is to invest in real people.
Brands should look to build a community of real people who are authentic brand fans. By focusing less on follower count and more on the relationship they have with their community, the increased ROI will follow naturally.