Whether it’s housing, currency or bath soap products…there is always a delicate bubble and it is always imminently going to burst. Many people run around, chanting of doom and considering whether it is worth living through the impending Armageddon or whether they should run away to a forest to live off a diet of woodlice and moss (I’ve heard this is going to be the next weight loss fad). The same can be said for the ‘influencer marketing bubble’.
Log into LinkedIn and follow a handful of influencer marketing professionals, thought leaders or writers and you will quickly realise the theme of ‘fuck influencer marketing is about to implode and kill us all’ is running strong. You are also likely to see a few contrasting opinions arguments around this – primarily due to so much contrasting data and opinions being available on the subject.
In answer to this I have decided to recline in my chair and ask the burning question – so fucking what?
Will the influencer marketing bubble really burst? And if it does, is it really an issue? Are we really all going to lose our jobs, cars and homes and have to start busking on the streets?
It’s doubtful and here is why.
Define the death of an immaterial thing…
My first major issue with this impending doom is that I am yet to meet any two people who have the same definition of influencer marketing. Even a quick web search throws all this up:
“Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you”
“Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers”
“Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with customers about your brand, products or services”
“Influencer Marketing is the name we give to the process of developing relationships with influential people that can lead to their assisting you in creating visibility for your product or service. This type of marketing depends on your having something great to offer your potential customers, and the audience of the influencer, and it also depends on your building a great relationship with the influencer as well”
Don’t get me wrong, they all have a similar theme based around identifying and leveraging influential individuals within a business’s particular niche…but my point is, influencer marketing is an immaterial thing, it is a concept and as such can shift and adjust over time to become a new thing that stays true to its principals.
A wise man once said…
“Influencer Marketing is using influence to market”
But can anyone actually tell me that this will ever not ring true? Will there ever be people who are not leaders and influential in particular niche areas? And will those people stop being beneficial to businesses, whether that is through paid endorsements or building strong and lasting relationships – or a combination of them both?
“Influencer Marketing (of the genuine kind) will likely never burst — I don’t see it as a bubble. There will always be more influencers, and forever more brands looking to collaborate in an increasingly saturated marketplace (filled with potential customers who are rapidly tiring of ads and pushy marketing). People trust people. It’s been researched countless times in many studies. Add targeted, influencer status to the mix (somebody who is not only influential, but highly-engaged with their audience) and this effect is intensely amplified. To sum up: Human connection is what matters today. The right, authentic partnerships blow any bubbles far away!
Sure, the tactics around influencer marketing may get tired, outdated and flat. But the fundamentals will always ring true as a powerful way to interact with and engage potential customers.
“90% of consumers are influenced to buy as a result of positive reviews.” Now Escape
“30% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger, than a celebrity.” Collective Bias ”
Do you think the tactics and approach to content marketing are the same as when the phrase was coined? Hell no – they have had to change and adapt rapidly in order to keep up with the times – websites, blogs, social media etc etc. Same with sales…even in my relatively short career in sales the techniques and tactics changed rapidly in order to keep up with the times and keep leads engaged.
WTF is influencer marketing?
Ok, ok…I am probably going to get some shit for this. But influencer marketing is actually pretty new. At least the term in the way we use it now…I am well aware that the fundamentals have existed for centuries (and in my opinion, will continue to – see above).
But just because those of us who have been leveraging influencer marketing in our professional lives may have been doing it for a fair few years now…the world outside our window is only really just hearing about it.
Just because you have read 7 million articles entitled ‘what is influencer marketing’, doesn’t mean the rest of the world has.
“A LOT of people don’t know what influencer marketing is. Example: someone got in touch with me recently and said she’d never heard of influencer marketing. Didn’t know what it is. There are more of those people out there than we know – in spite of all the content we all publish!”
New things always get some bad media….and yeah of course there are some atrocious examples of influencer marketing taking place in the market. Just like there are some atrocious examples of content marketing and atrocious example of sales…people are always trying to make a quick buck out of these things, especially when they are hot news.
I don’t know about everyone else. But I am getting more clients asking me what on earth influencer marketing is than telling me they don’t want to use it because it has a bad rep.
Instead of submitting to the massacre of IM, we should be educating the world about it and its real benefits – if we want to keep it alive. This is our duty.
Focus on what works, not what’s ‘hot’
Let’s line up for another semi-controversial one…because those that know me, know I am a huge advocate of micro-influencers as a way to get a genuine message across to an engaged audience.
However, as a marketer, you need to focus on what works, not what is fashionable among marketers or what has the most media buzz at the time…your job is to market and market well…so use the right tools.
What I mean by this is; if I were Nike and I had the budget…I would work with Tiger Woods as a ‘celebrity influencer’. This is because he has influence over my target audience – specifically those that play golf. My mate use to buy the shoes that Tiger Wood wore because Tiger Woods wore them…if he played in Calloway’s he would buy their brand instead.
People really need to understand that celebrity endorsements work, mid-tier influencers work, micro-influencers work, me telling my mate that ‘Piddle in the hole’ is a good beer will convince him to buy a pint (true story, beers in the UK have weird names). The end of it is that influencer marketing, whether that influencer is mega famous, or my mate Dave works…and it always will.
Of course, there are always trade-offs in getting better value for money. Working with 50 micro-influencers may be more beneficial than working with one ‘celebrity’. But then depending on the product, the budget, the audience and the industry the opposite may be true.
There is so much data out there telling us contrasting things. Most of it is collected by those within the industry – yes it is useful and indicative, but usually biased – whether intentionally or not.
Focusing on what works is about using your own judgment, only the data that you personally trust and probably a fair amount of gut feel.
But what if the influencer marketing bubble actually bursts?
Adapt damn it!
We don’t work in the past, the likelihood is our ‘jobs’ are never going to stay the same for very long, things change and only those that adapt will survive in the long run.
“I’d love to see the ‘’bubble’’ burst – but let’s get this straight, this bubble is only applicable to those within the influencer advertising space, where people are heavily relying on internet celebrities & eyeballs. You won’t hear those focusing on strategic, long-term influencer marketing programmes talk about bubbles. But once it’s happened – perhaps we can all start focusing on what real influencer marketing is.”
Take a step back. To reiterate a point – focus on what works, not what is hot. If you are 100% convinced that influencer marketing is about to blow up in spectacular fashion, then why are you paying it any mind? You should be spending all of your time looking for the next thing to sink your teeth into.
In conclusion, the likelihood of influencer marketing disappearing off the face of the Earth is pretty much nill. Undoubtedly, the tool and those that use it will have to adapt as consumer perceptions change, platforms alter algorithms and policies and as people & organisations continue to change the way in which they interact and grow their influence over their audiences.
As always, every ‘disaster’ or ‘predicted disaster’ will present a number of opportunities. Just like a large part of the power influencer marketing was born from consumers getting fed up with direct ads, so too will any changes in perception of influencer marketing present new ways to connect with customers…so go find them.