In 2020, the influencer marketing industry is set to reach a whopping 10 billion dollars. A startling 99.3% of businesses who use influencer marketing use Instagram to build and launch their campaigns. But with the rise of major and micro-influencers proliferating on Instagram and elsewhere, is influencer marketing all it’s cracked up to be? For brand awareness, maybe. But when it comes to sales, we don’t think so.
Why has influencer marketing become so popular?
There isn’t a company or marketer alive who hasn’t struggled with creating awareness and driving sales. Often, marketers don’t have enough unique and original content to support all their channels and entertain and inform their audience members. It’s also challenging to foster trustworthiness and brand identity. And with so many brands using online and offline marketing and advertising, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to break through the noise and capture their ideal customer’s attention. Because of these marketing difficulties, influencer marketing quickly became the go-to solution for these problems. But the solutions influencer marketing brings to the table - trustworthiness and attention-grabbing - aren’t necessarily going to result in direct sales.
So, what’s the problem with influencer marketing?
When they first came on the scene, influencers may have been able to build the type of trust that brand’s want to foster with their target audience. But in today’s world where fake bots and large follower counts are often an illusion, influencers are more akin to reality stars than trusted authorities for most consumers. Having thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of followers might be what marketers want to see, but this doesn’t always translate into a sign of trustworthiness for consumers.
Studies and surveys on influencer marketing bear this out. Only 23% of surveyed consumers believe that content and recommendations from celebrities and micro-influencers are in fact, influential. Conversely, 60% of consumers are more apt to trust recommendations and content from their friends and family members. A social influencer, to most consumers, is just another marketer. They are inherently untrustworthy. Consumers are savvy and understand that content from influencers is simply the digital, modern equivalent of paid advertising.
The impact of social influencers is similar to the effects found with native advertising forms. It’s useful for steadily improving soft metrics like awareness and engagement. But when it comes to metrics like sales and conversions, influencer marketing falls short. Companies must understand that influencer marketing does have a place - to build awareness. But when it comes to direct sales? Not so much, and your efforts are more likely to pay off if you focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.
Who are your greatest influencers?
The effectiveness of influencer marketing will vary somewhat depending on your industry and your specific marketing goals. But the prevalence of bots and fake followers has seriously sullied the reputation and effectiveness of influencer marketing when it comes to sales. Your best bet? Get your real customers to recommend your products and services to their family and friends.