What the Influencer Marketing “Whistleblowers” Got Right (Sort Of)
You’ve probably come across a few articles lately about an anonymous marketing exec who claims to blow the lid off the influencer marketing world (specifically this one). This has ignited a big conversation that calls the merits of influencer marketing into question.
There are two main sides in this debate: Those who believe influencer marketing is the authentic fix to a marketing world that’s gone spammy and those who believe that influencer marketing has gone haywire and the benefits are blown out of proportion. We’ve been involved with some of the top influencer marketing programs over the past 3 years, and continue to help brands like Reebok bring their stories to life online, so we’re throwing our two cents in. At the end of the day, you should make an educated decision on influencer marketing and determine whether or not it’s the right fit for your brand.
The article did bring up some valid points. As with any young industry, the influencer marketing space has many pain points, mostly due to its rapid growth and lack of standardization. If you’ve never tried influencer marketing, these are probably the things that are keeping you wary. If you have tried and had a terrible experience, these are probably the causes of your heartache.
It’s hard to know what amount of compensation is correct for this type of content. It’s not necessarily a daylong shoot with two assistants, so you can’t rely on standard photography rates. It’s not a straight media buy, so you can’t fall back on traditional ad buying rates… And then there’s the curve ball of verticals: Mommy blogger types might charge more than foodies or fitness accounts. The truth is, there is no standard rate for influencer marketing. You can contact someone with 10K followers who will ask you for twice as much per post as the guy with 150K followers. This makes it extremely hard to budget for these campaigns.
If you don’t have the experience of running many campaigns, it can be very hard to predict what people in each space will require for participation. This can lead to paying way too much or offering way too little and turning creators off from your campaign.
Poor content quality
In addition to the concerns of compensation, there are marketers who worry about influencers not posting authentic content. This is a legitimate concern when you have people like Scott Disick posting the epitome of Instagram spam. This is where the matchmaking piece comes in. It is important to work with influencers who value their art and will only accept programs that fit their posting style and audiences’ expectations. If you’re working with genuine influencers, you will have great enthusiasm for the product/brand. Being popular isn’t the same as being influential and enthusiasm comes across in smart collaborations.
If we had a dime for every time we’ve had this conversation. In the same way you cannot track direct ROI from a billboard or a TV ad, you cannot track direct-to-purchase ROI from an influencer campaign. And you shouldn’t want to. We strongly believe that there is no linear path to purchase and that influencers should never be used as agents for direct sales. Those are the most spammy posts. Working with talented content creators who are good brand fit can contribute meaningfully to your brand’s story, foster goodwill among your consumers, and serve as a signpost along the path to purchase.
Agents + "Influencer Agencies"
The anonymous social media exec refers to groups that “operate as semi-talent agencies.” We agree. Those agencies sign influencers up to “exclusive” agreements and force brands to pay too much for their use all while taking a cut of the action for acting like a middleman. This creates allegiance to the talent and not to the brand or the brand story and does not foster the type of positive relationship between brand and influencer that is necessary for successful programs.
That is why we operate differently. We do not have a network. We are actively building a community called Snapfluence. We focus on fostering relationships with both the creators and the brands. We serve as a kind of arbitrator, bringing all stakeholders to the table and ensuring that everyone’s interests are represented.
Because influencer marketing is so popular right now, there are a lot of brands and agencies who are running these programs simply because they feel like they should. They aren’t doing it for the right reasons and they’re making it up as they go along. This leaves both sides underwhelmed and exasperated with the process. We cringed at hearing about the influencer selected because “the CEO’s kid liked them.” We work every day to elevate the influencer marketing conversation and serve brands, content creators, and consumers with better advertising experience.
Influencer marketing can suck. But it doesn’t have to.