November 29, 2017

Here’s why influencer marketing is doomed

Not so long ago, almost every brand manager yelled “accio influencer!” in a desperate attempt to embrace the fad of influencer marketing. Brands splurged generously to integrate an influencer campaign within their marketing plans. We saw hashtags fight each other for a top spot in the trends chart.

Influencers were the new hoardings and radio spots — they even had managers and negotiators to speak on their behalf.

Fast forwards a couple of years to 2017, and you realize all the hullabaloo has vanished! Lots of brands have stopped indulging in influencer marketing altogether. Branded hashtags have disappeared into thin air and influencers themselves seem to be under the Invisibility Spell.

So, what exactly went wrong in the world of influencer marketing?

1. You can’t bluff your audience

We are in the information age and an average internet user is smart enough to distinguish between paid ads and authentic content. Paying an influencer to endorse your product is not illegal — we’ve been doing it for decades, try not to hide the fact to build trust. Show people transparency and they’ll listen to you. Try to hide something and blow them away with suspicion.

2. Influencers are in a rush to monetise their community

What majority of influencers don’t understand is that their authority is their currency. They measure success by the number of followers they have. And when they reach a certain number, they’re looking to cash in on their pseudo success which severs the trust with the community. This is a suicide — as people will not buy your word.

3. It is a PR driven activity — not a media buying process

Most brands see influencer marketing as a media activity. For them, it is equivalent to buying media space for a stipulated time. Hence, media buyers are deployed to chalk out an influencer marketing plan. And as the rule goes, media buyers will measure the success in terms of reach and impression. This is exactly where the problem lies. You don’t need media buyers for influencer marketing, what you rather need is a team of brand managers and communication experts.

4. Metrics and benchmarks are cloudy

Influencers should be driving actions, not social impressions. Relevance always trumps reach. Pseudo influencers are aimlessly shouting into an echo chamber. Brand shouldn’t be telling real influencers how to engage with their communities. Let the influencer use their own unique style. This will definitely bring in more engagement which automatically leads to shaping people’s opinions about your brand

5. More noise, less impact

Brands usually spend a limb in order to create a “buzz” around the launch of a product. Influencers see this as a lucrative opportunity to make a quick buck. Tweets and Instagram posts start flying left right and centre using a branded hashtag and trackable links. Within minutes, a user’s timeline is littered with thrash. Spamming is the fastest way to put off the user. Not to mention the potential danger of being reported spam.

6. Lack of organic influence

Some brands think buying opinions a sure shot way to generate favourable reactions. On the contrary, savvy brands like Apple know that they don’t actually have to cough up cash to get their products endorsed. A cost-effective way for a brand to garner authentic word-of-mouth is by building a cult for your products. Create a product which is actually good and the reviews might flow in. Moreover, spend time in nurturing a sacred, cash-less relationship with your influencer. Authentic endorsements will always yield high returns than paid ones.

7. It is transactional and not relational

Influencers are paid to deliver in a measured metric like no. of tweets or posts. It is a direct give-and-take activity between the brand and the influencers. In an ideal world, the process has to be more intrinsic. Influencers should be given time to build a liking towards the brand and the product. And in return, they should be creating value added content for the brand.