4 fallacies about influencer marketing that just won’t go away (but should)

Sep 20, 2019 | Social Media Marketing | 0 comments


Every once in a while, I get on my soapbox. The funny thing is, I have an actual soapbox that someone on my team bought for me years ago. I’ve tested it, and it holds my weight, so I’m beginning to think I should haul it out more often when I want to make a point.

I’m on it today to talk about four fallacies that still perpetuate around influencer marketing. The fact that they are still circulating drives me crazy. It’s important that these untruths no longer mislead businesspeople, so I’ve outlined below how you can avoid falling into them:

Fallacy No. 1: You can get 11 times the return on investment with influencer campaigns.

I’ve heard this statistic cited for years. It was for one campaign promoting one product at one very specific point in time, yet many in the industry continue to quote it as if it were the gospel. It’s not. If this were true of influencer campaigns, I believe influencer marketing spending would have likely skyrocketed beyond the $15 billion that Business Insider predicted brands will spend on influencer marketing by 2022. From my perspective, you should not use this bit of “history” as a benchmark for influencer marketing ROI. If you do, you’ll be disappointed every time.

One recent survey on influencer marketing by SocialPubli.com found that 84 percent of marketers believe partnering with influencers is effective. Respondents also cited influencer marketing as the biggest driver of ROI. Leveraging our own access to point-of-sale data, my company has consistently studied the impact of influencers on driving both store traffic and in-store sales. Although we didn’t see “11 times the ROI,” we saw some brands reaching more than six times their return. The bottom line is that your ROI isn’t guaranteed, but you can still be extremely successful in your influencer campaign investments (even without 11 times the return).

Fallacy No. 2: Accurate influencer attribution is almost impossible.

According to a 2019 study by InfluencerDB, there are more than 550,000 influencers on Instagram alone. And in my experience, traditional pricing models have agencies charging a brand based on the assumption that 100 percent of followers will see an influencer’s post. But our research revealed that “on average, only about 12 percent of followers see an influencer’s post on Instagram.” The reality is, only a fraction of an influencer’s followers actually see a particular post.

Because of this, many marketers believe capturing accurate influencer attribution can’t be done. But proper attribution can be achieved; it just takes work. Look for options that allow you to only pay for verified content views. That’s the idea behind my company’s model. Brands can also measure attribution through more traditional methods, such as affiliate links or personalized offer codes.

Fallacy No. 3: There’s no such thing as influencer authenticity.

If you pay an influencer, supply them with content you’ve created and then micromanage their writing along with the entire creative process, then, yes, you will fail to deliver authentic content via your influencer. Just enough misguided marketers, off-track in their efforts to distribute content that they think will be the silver bullet, take this approach and contribute to this fallacy. And their engagement often suffers because of it.

Don’t “handcuff” your influencers. Trust that they know their audience, and let them do their thing. Sure, a review must be part of the process, but it shouldn’t be heavy-handed. Enable your influencers. Let them keep their “voice,” and you will ensure authenticity — along with better results.

Fallacy No. 4: It’s difficult to find the right influencers.

Again, this takes work, but it’s doable. Back in the day, you’d engage with a variety of influencers, get to know them as best you could and then make your best decision as to whether or not someone was right for your campaign. But this is not a scalable model, nor is it practical in today’s marketing environment.

Today, you might employ innovative technology to help. I’ve observed more companies, including my own, are employing artificial intelligence alongside predictive analytics to select influencers who best match both message and audience. Selectivity counts, and it’s paying off for those willing to invest in the process. Gartner recently predicted that AI augmentation will create nearly $3 trillion of business value in 2021, so it’s no wonder influencer marketing companies are using AI for better influencer selection, insights to the type of content, timing and more. 

Once misinformation makes its way into the marketplace, it seems almost impossible to correct. Maybe that’s because it’s true that people tend to believe the worst. Who knows? What I do know is that marketers must be accurately informed about influencer marketing if they’re going to effectively use the power of influencers to activate shoppers. And I’ll stay on my soapbox as long as it takes to make that happen.  


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