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Influencer Marketing – a convincing trap?

Influencer marketing: "a voluntary act of exhibiting your opinion towards what you like/dislike or dislike about a brand, by sharing it with your peers without expectation". But despite the definition, Instagram - Facebook’s cash-cow, is turning out to be business of $2.38 billion. Brand sponsored influencer posts are estimated to be 32.3 million this year, which makes me inquisitive to discern the authenticity of influencer marketing, that has been undergoing the transition from being an untainted earned media to paid media. Well, let’s just face the elephant in the room!

Do all influencers really influence, and who do they influence, if at all?

In this article, I’d like to critique this very buzzword of social media marketing and yearn for every reader to develop a wholesome understanding of it.

“I’ve got 100K followers”, good for you!

I completely get it! Brands require to raise awareness amongst their target and they look for micro-influencers who’ve got a fair chunk of social media following. But, amidst fake and inactive accounts, does it suffice to rely on that number? Fine, if not followers, let’s talk about engagement! According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, the average engagement rate of influencer accounts with a following greater than 100K is just 1.7%. Now, with that low the rate, is the influencer even engaging?

“Sorry, I can’t show you my account analytics”, no deal then!

Influencers not revealing their account analytics should be seen as a hoax by marketers. A native gourmet eatery would gladly call food bloggers for a one-off review against a high-priced meal, just to uncover that out of all their followers, barely 20% belong to the area where the eatery is. Await! The ones who’ve actually manage to engage with the post are not even a percent of that 20%. Now, doesn’t that look like the restaurant was the only one to get falsely influenced?

credits: thewebmate.com

“I am a part of you”, we don’t feel so.

What if I told you that I’ll make arrangements for a luxurious trip to Europe. What I’d want in return is coverage and promotion to your Instagram followers, interacting with them and giving them all the information they’d ask for from you. I’ve scrolled ample influencer’s accounts to even-handedly conclude that there are hardly any interactions what so ever. As the influencer starts gaining popularity, her penchant to interact falls drastically. I mean, there’s no harm in getting to behave like a celebrity unless they stand up to their end of the bargain.

“I’ll get you conversions”, can we see how?

According to research conducted by Altimeter, consumer brands give 50% of the priority to increasing ROI via influencer marketing. Now, what’s the assurance that the sales could be accountable to one particular influencer? Let me guess! Coupon codes? Exclusive affiliate programs? Convincing! The only hitch with these is that users follow influencers for their candid views in the first place. Wouldn’t they want to shed away from these promotions as they do against all other forms of marketing?

“I am reliable”, you sound self-proclaimed!

What’s trust? It’s the only factor that holds any form of earned media. Great opinion makers are the ones who don’t self-assert. They hold a stand backed by thorough rational. Nowadays, influencers just climb the bandwagon, with near no domain expertise and give it a shot as an alternative to their day job. There’s no harm in it if there’s substantial backing.

credits: Small Business Trends

Are all of them bluffing? I’d say no.

I have no right to generalize the influencers. There’s no negating the perseverance of many unpretentious ones who’ve proven their mettle to reach where they are. However, in the clutter out there, it might get quite tricky for the brands to hunt for the genuine ones. Though there are influencer marketing agencies at the rescue, assisting brands in getting the right talent as per their necessities, they charge way more than what’s considered a reasonable return on investment. On top of it, if the brand needs its marketing communications to be integrated and is dealing with multiple agencies, it might end up being a mess.

I see it’s time for the marketers to note the above-mentioned concerns and fight their way out themselves. While the smartest ones might triumph, the ones who’ve missed their mark would want to come back reading about how they might get it right the next time!

Written by: Jay Bhuta

Edited by: Priscilla Greggio

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