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Is Influencer Marketing Dead?

Updated on August 6, 2018
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Paola Bassanese is a freelance author and writer specialising in food, lifestyle and entertainment.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is defined as the relationship between brands and bloggers or vloggers with a strong following. The influencers can talk about a product or service and let other people who trust them know about it and recommend it. Influencers can ask their followers to take action, for example to buy something or watch a video. In the early days of influencer marketing, the industry wasn’t regulated so it was difficult to measure with precision the success of a marketing campaign.

This article from Forbes explains more.

Influencer Marketing

Instagram as a way for brands to reach new audiences
Instagram as a way for brands to reach new audiences | Source

The Case for Influencer Marketing

If we look at articles about influencer marketing written by marketing consultancies, influencer marketing is here to stay and should be included in any marketing mix plan. These sources also talk about microinfluencers as very powerful actors in the market because they have a closer relationship with their followers and, therefore, better engagement.

For brands, getting the social validation for their products from an influencer can help boost sales and brand awareness.

Influencer marketing is likely to survive in the long term, as audiences, particularly younger ones, don’t trust adverts to inform their purchasing decisions (see for example this article on Medium), however brands will need to develop strategic partnership instead of simply approaching influencers for one-off promotional campaigns. For brands, working with influencers allows for a more targeted approach to reach newer audiences through storytelling, particularly audiences that are not traditionally aware of a brand. If marketers want to succeed in influencer marketing they need to invest time in developing long term relationships with brand champions.

The market for influencer marketing is expected to reach $10 billion by 2020, according to Adweek.

The Case against Influencer Marketing

There are plenty of opinion pieces against influencer marketing. The main objection to using influencers is how easy it is to buy followers. Many influencers will price their services according to the number of Instagram followers, for example, however brands should be more interested in an influencer’s engagement rate.

An issue that has plagued the influencer marketing industry is disclosure: sometimes, influencers did not disclosed that they received payment to promote a product. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and introduced more regulations to stop this practice and require that influencers declare when a post is sponsored and when a feature on their website or vlog is a paid promotion.

Working with Brands

Brand deals
Brand deals | Source

Ways To Measure Influencer Marketing

Have you ever heard of Klout? Klout used to be a very popular tool to measure social influencing. It gathered information from social media profiles to create a score (the top score was 100 and it was only allocated to celebrities and high profile people) and highlight a person’s key topics of expertise and influence. Klout ironically lost its influence over the years and closed down in 2018. Many have speculated that the new European rules on data protection (General Data Protection Regulation) were an important factor in deciding to shut down Klout, as it may not have been always possible to prove that an individual had given full consent to access all the data needed to build a Klout profile.

Two leading websites for measuring social influence are Kred and Brandwatch Audiences. They can be useful to see a quick snapshot of an influencer’s areas of expertise and social reach. However, these tools alone are not sufficient to help choose which influencer to work with.

Analytics tools will become more important to evaluate the true reach of a brand’s message. Social platforms such as Snapchat, for example, do not provide enough information about engagement and the demographics of audiences, apart from number of views. Facebook and Instagram offer more detailed data on audiences gathered from sponsored posts, however users of these platforms may decide to make their personal information about their buying preferences and other demographics information private in light of data protection laws. Marketers will need to decide which social platform offers the best results, but they need to bear in mind that privacy laws will prevent them from getting granular access to data.

There are some influencer value calculation tools online that can give some indication on the return on investment, for example from Influencer Marketing Hub.


Some Thoughts for Brands and Influencers

Brands:

Ask for follower engagement reports and success stories.

Influencers:

Get as much data on successful campaigns as possible and think about the long term.

What Do You Think?

In this highly unscientific survey I launched on Twitter with a ridiculously low sample size of 8 votes, there was a 50/50 split between those who believe influencer marketing is dead and those who think it’s alive and kicking.

Do you think influencer marketing has a future? Please take part in the survey below and share your view in the comments.

Twitter Survey

An unscientific Twitter survey to discover whether influencer marketing is here to stay
An unscientific Twitter survey to discover whether influencer marketing is here to stay

Influencer Marketing

Is influencer marketing dead?

See results

© 2018 Paola Bassanese

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