When selfies became a thing, Paris Hilton was too eager to come forth and adamantly proclaim that she was the one who invented the selfie when she pointed the camera towards the mirror and photographed herself and Kate Moss. (For the record, the first selfie was taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast, in Philadelphia.)
Naturally, people ignored her and went about their business posing here and there with googly eyes and pouty lips. Poses and camera lens aside, there is value to this story. Influencer marketing is frequently overrated, and influencers are not all that jazz and never everything they claim to be. So, here is what you need to know about influencer marketing.
Fact #1: Audience Vs. Influence
We tend to confuse the audience with influence. Sure, Kim broke the internet, and the number of people who drooled over her lustrous champagne picture is probably a six-figure. Still, I am willing to bet very few, if any, women were influenced to replicate her (overly photoshopped) pose. Having a lot of followers or a large blog readership does not make a person influential. Sure, it gives them an audience, but if it does not drive the audience to act on something, it merely creates awareness and stirs up some hot gossip during an afternoon tea. An authentic influencer, however, prompts action. And action is not measured in the number of likes or shares.
Fact #2: Influencers Become Less And Less Trustworthy
As influencer outreach programs become more prominent, readers and followers become weary of the truth behind each new post, each new picture, and each new hashtag. We know that there is more than meets the eye, and influencers only show what they want you to see in the world of marketing. Or better said, they only show what they are paid to deliver. So, when we see influencers endorsing x-diets, or y-cars, or z-shoes, do we really believe that they are so passionate about whatever it is they are advocating? I am afraid not. So, instead of acquiring more buyers by relying on influencer marketing, you end up with customers who look at your brand with a jaundiced eye, are prejudiced against it, and are negatively predisposed from the get-go.
Fact #3: People Are More Influenced By Other People
Anyone well versed in introductory human psychology will tell you this: people are social creatures, and they want to belong in a group. They need to be part of a pack, and they will do whatever it takes to be liked and accepted by that pack. As an extension, people are more likely to be driven into action by members of the said pack than by celebrities and influencers outside of it. We call this the invisible influence, and it makes perfect sense. You are more likely to try a new diet if a close friend has already tried it and managed to get rid of those few extra pounds. Why? Because, truth be told, deep down, you know that the influencer’s killer body is not the result of any diet (but rather a dubious combination of personal training, plastic surgeries, diet, and photoshop).
Fact #4: Viral Content Is Triggered By Emotions
Influencers may elicit a positive or an adverse reaction. However, since these people are seen outside the realm of plain or ordinary people, your buyers will rarely - if ever - identify with them. However, if you want to influence people, you must be able to touch their emotions, appeal to their passions, and offer a form of catharsis. Influencers cannot trigger emotions that will result in viral content. They cannot touch your buyers on an emotional level simply because they are not on the same level as them; financially, emotionally, or socially.
Fact #5: Sharing Is Not Always Caring
If you manage to influence an influencer, you will automatically earn exposure and awareness. But that does not equate to brand loyalty. Companies believe that sharing results in brand loyalty, but this is not always the case. Sure it leads to brand awareness, but loyalty is an entirely different thing. Sharing is not always caring, and viral content may backfire, especially if shared content is the epitome of marketing gone wrong. You do not want a failed influencer ad or campaign to go viral because you will earn negative exposure. You need to build a context around your brand and nurture loyalty instead of promoting an empty story with a “fake” influencer.
Take Away Lesson
When it comes to influencers, nothing is what it seems. Behind the glam and jazz, influencers are grossly overrated. Sure, they will increase your likes and shares, but will that result in increased sales and brand loyalty? I am afraid not. So invest in building and nurturing a close relationship with your buyers. Show your company’s real, ordinary and humane face and not hide behind empty stories promoted by paid influencers.