It seems that influencer marketing has been having a rough time of late. With influencer fraud, ‘fake followers’ and monetised marriage proposals dominating the headlines, is the influencer marketing bubble about to burst?
Here are a few points marketers need to take note of in order for influencer marketing to survive – at least on Instagram.
It’s nothing new.
Truth is, influencer marketing is nothing new. It’s existed in the form of celebrity endorsements and athlete sponsorship's for decades. Now, with social media there’s an opportunity to get just as many eyes on our product as we see in traditional forms of advertising like television and print and because everyone has a smartphone there’s no reason why your average Joe can’t start to make money from their reach.
The reason ‘influencer marketing’ has worked so well in television, print and digital is because marketers can make informed business decisions through key insights that link directly to ROI such as reach, readership, viewability and circulation. When it comes to social media platforms like Instagram, we’re often left in the dark as these stats can be a little more difficult to get a hold of.
Get your hands on the right data
Because follower size and (once upon a time) likes are the only pieces of public information available to most of us they have naturally become the traded metric and now with all this talk of fake followers, pods and like farms it’s clear that this is a flawed way of assessing an influencer’s value.
For influencer marketing to thrive on platforms like Instagram marketers need to treat influencers the same way they do on other traditional forms of advertising where there is an expectation that they see relevant and accurate data to help them make huge spending decisions.
It’s common to use third-party analytics platforms to find this data however, in August last year Instagram made changes to its API and many of these platforms lost access to influencer’s data. In order to keep their business afloat, these platforms have largely resorted to other far less ethical (or legal) ways of getting it – this data is often outdated and incorrect.
The only way to get credible data is directly from the influencer through free, independent platforms like Q-83 where influencers opt in to share in-depth, real-time insights on their audience demographics and reach.
Just like traditional forms of advertising where these metrics are ‘business-as-usual’ and transparently shared with brands to help them make decisions, influencers should be no different. When evaluating an influencer, think, if they aren’t willing to share that information with you, are they really worth the investment?
Bigger isn’t always better
For a while now we’ve been led to believe that the more followers an influencer has, the more people will see their content and therefore the more value they bring to a brand. Wrong.
There’s two issues with this. One is that just like a billboard it’s important to know how many people will actually see your content and of those that have the chance to see it, how many choose to act. The number of followers someone has is not an audience, those that see it, is. It’s common to see influencers with 138K followers only reach 38K users and influencers with only 9K followers reach over 89K users - my bet is that one of them is getting paid a lot more than the other while reaching far fewer users.
The other is that influencers should be chosen for their audience first. If you’re a local coffee shop in Surry Hills and an influencer with a relatively small following is a coffee lover who lives in Surry Hills, chances are their followers might be coffee lovers in Surry Hills too - that’s a great match. On the other hand if you’re an Australian bikini brand and you’re advertising through a supermodel (who looks great in your product) with over 1 million male followers based out of Brazil, I’m not sure how many bikinis you are likely to sell.
Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere. The fact is though, that if influencers aren’t able (or willing) to transparently share their metrics with brands then it’s going to become increasingly difficult to forecast an ROI and justify spending large budgets. Instagram is one of the largest influencer marketing platforms right now but if marketers can’t get their hands on credible data they will be forced to move on to other platforms where they can.
About the Author
Anthony Richardson Founder and Managing Director of Q-83, the world-leading influencer metric sharing company. Anthony works closely with major publishing houses and regulation authorities across the UK and Australia.