'INFLUENCER MARKETING IS DEAD' Wait, what?

…And other sensationalised headlines surrounding influencer marketing.

Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of click-bait titles published by reputable media houses such as The Drum - who reported that a global study from UM, said that ‘only 4% of people trust what influencers say online’ I suggest you read Nik Speller’s response on this, who tackles the subject very well.

I ask you to think of the term ‘influencer’ for a second.

If you think of the likes of Love Island, Made in Chelsea, the Kardashians type of people, then that’s when you know you’ve been reading about influencers from journalists at the BBC, Guardian, who superficially report on influencer marketing with a slightly cynical side eye.

The term ‘influencer’ is so often blanket-termed in the media, that we don’t take into account those creators that don’t even regard themselves as ‘influencers’ in the first place. Digital first creators, YouTubers, content creators, vloggers, bloggers, experts in a certain field with social influence; whether that be beauty, food, finance, tech.

A couple of weeks after this article was posted, a video popped up on LinkedIn by a very influential figure in the social media space, with the headline ‘influencer marketing is broken’. This person talked about how there’s lots of Instagram influencers out there who buy their likes, followers, engagement. This is true, it is an issue within our industry. But it doesn’t show the entire picture. Influencers don’t just exist on Instagram alone, so how can we say that the ENTIRE influencer marketing industry is ‘broken’. If so, hundreds of us in this industry are in trouble!

It doesn’t sit right with me for a few reasons. I highly respect this person in the industry, I trust what this person says to tell me the latest goings on in social media and influencer marketing. And clearly the video was created to spark reaction in the industry. I get it, these headlines cut through the noise. That’s fine, there’s no problem with that either.

My main gripe is that because this person is SO authoritative and trusted in the space, there was an influx of comments agreeing with the post, from in-house digital marketing managers to thought leaders and brand owners. And that’s worrying. Granted, it won’t stop me from getting a good night’s sleep but still, it’s enough for me to write a blogpost about it.

Secondly, for anyone who has followed this person for a while knows their company has built a tool to help tackle Instagram influencer fraud. Great, it is needed. I applaud that. But from a PR point of view, surely this was just a plug for their own product? Fair play if so, who wouldn’t take the opportunity to plug their own service on TV? But at least tell the whole picture, rather than misleading so many people that what you’ve reported isn’t skewed to just a particular type of ‘influencer’ (if we can call them that) on a particular platform.

Below is my comment on the video post. I’m not usually a big LinkedIn commenter, but I felt it was needed to say something.

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The screenshot further down is a slightly confusing chat in the comments with an in-house digital marketing manager. For some reason this person misconstrued my reply and thought that I meant fake followers were okay! It does worry me that digitally savvy marketers would write off an industry based off…very little.

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Like any form of media, don’t take everything face value. Especially in our industry which is still so new and ever-changing. We’re all learning, not one person can know EVERYTHING there is to know on influencer marketing.

For those who are looking for expert influencer marketers to follow, look at the likes of Nik Speller and Ana Thorsdottir, both come from varying influencer marketing philosophies, but equally are thought leaders in the space. As well as specialist influencer marketing publishers such as Talking Influence.