Influencers are expensive and ineffective. Or are they?

May 28th, 2018
Article by

No Bullshit (agree)

Stefan Maritz, Strategist

An “influencer” is someone who has managed to acquire a large amount of followers on his/her social media profiles, and is perceived to have a certain amount of social influence over/among those followers. These ‘influencers’ offer their professional services to brands and companies across the world in exchange for sponsored products, experiences or money.

That being said, it is important to note that there is a very big difference between a celebrity endorser/brand ambassador and what most people generally view as an influencer.

‘Jenna’, for example, is blessed with a good figure, pretty face and enough inherited money to afford her an expensive camera and global travel. She spams Instagram with #travel #wanderlust with a profile filled with pictures of herself in exotic locations, gaining reputation as an influencer with a large following, but never really providing much value.

Influencers like Jenna generally seem to think that every hotel, backpackers and restaurant they come across owes them something in exchange for a post and/or mention.

The problem is that the more this occurs, the more expensive their “brand exposure” becomes, and the more demanding they get – when in reality they very rarely actually care about the brand paying for their “professional service”, or offer much more than a volume of reach in return. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are being offered something for free, they would, in most cases, never even support the brand or service.

It is all just fuel for their egos, self-enrichment and self-proclaimed ‘influence’, and the brand doesn’t generally benefit much.

Bullshit (disagree)

Brad, Managing Director

 To understand influencer marketing, we first need to look at the types of influencers in order to showcase how influencership is being measured. The broad categories of influencers include:

  • Celebrities: people who have come upon fame by an entirely separate stream, and are viewed as important in their own right

  • Influencers: people with very large online audiences, who have come to be known for what they do and talk about. Digital celebrities, if you will.

  • Micro-Influencers: people with smaller audiences who are experts on a particular topic or subject, and are aiming to become well-known for this contribution.

  • Brand Influencers: ordinary people in a brand’s social media communities who carry resonance, but do not necessarily identify themselves as an influencer.

Brands generally choose Celebrity Influencers by matching their brand’s attributes, values and positioning to those of the celebrity.

Influencers are typically measured by reach, or how many followers a person has. But this is a flawed, old-school approach to a digital world, and doesn’t always allow for the optimum return on investment.

Micro-Influencers are measured not only by reach (although it’s still important) but also based on their relevance (their expertise, ability to drive conversations and capacity create new trends).

Brand Influencers are new to most marketers and are measured based on their relevance and resonance – that is, the ability to drive action or instil change within a brand community, through their loyalty to a brand.

As with most approaches, everything boils down to having a plan or strategy. If you’re going to embark on influencer marking you need to have a clear set of objectives and a detailed strategy aligning the use of various types of influencers to help achieve those objectives.

People who are typically screaming that influencer marketing is expensive and inefficient haven’t done their research or have failed to develop a comprehensive strategy.

The verdict?

Influencer marketing isn’t perfect; it has its flaws.  Brands are spending thousands of dollars building inauthentic relationships with people who often aren’t regular users of a brands products. As more and more influencers partner with brands, so they diminish credibility, and the traditional way of measuring influence (reach) is flawed.

Brands should use a mix of influencers and importantly, should partner with real people who truly use and love their products.

Not only are these people more authentic than celebrities and influencers, they’re also easier to engage with over the long term, and much more cost-efficient.

If you use the right technology to analyse your social networks, you’ll discover that there are people in your social media communities who have a strong affinity to your brand. They may not have a lot of reach (less than 1000 followers) but they do have a huge amount of relevance and resonance. Most of them don’t even know they have this level of influence. They like your brand — some of them even love your brand. They engage; they retweet; they share your brand’s story.

These are the people who drive the velocity of conversation in your brand communities. When they engage on a piece of brand content, it gains traction, other people engage (resonance) and authentic organic reach escalates. The best part — they’re not looking to become influencers and they are only influential within your brand-specific community.

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