The influencer bubble

  • A study confirmed that 59 percent of all links shared on social networks aren’t actually clicked on at all, implying the majority of article shares aren’t based on actual reading. 
  • People are sharing articles without ever getting past the headlines
  • Attention spans are at an all-time low, and most users make snap decisions about articles based on their first impressions, which happen to be headlines.
  •  Influencers have no way to prove they “influence” — neither in quantity nor in quality — and brands have to be very realistic about what they stand to gain from such collaborations, if at all.

A client outside Boston called for my help. They are a small CPG company that makes healthy snacks and were having trouble with their digital strategy. It seems that the folks at Hub Spot advised them to reach out to “influencers” on various social media platforms. They did and even sent them free samples of their products. The result? A lot of buzz and shares but the sale needle didn’t move at all.

According to Elinor Cohen, “there is a whole marketing strategy called “influencer marketing” or “influencer outreach”. There is even a concept called “micro influencer” to describe people with less following who are still considered “important” in their niche”.

The reason influencer culture is still relevant is that it runs parallel to the phenomenon of fake news and micro-targeted ads. It’s easy to draw parallels between the two. Social media targeting lets brands or organizations whisper into our ears and cater what they say to each of us; it’s why I get followed around the internet by ads about organic cotton dresses and sustainable jewelry. While marketers use influencer marketing like targeted ads to reach niche audiences, they’re disguised.

Online Influencer Outreach is Overrated

Having a lot of Twitter followers or a “large” blog readership doesn’t inherently make a person influential in any way. It gives them an audience. True influence drives action, not just awareness, and very few online demi-celebrities have enough juice to drive action in droves.

As influencer outreach programs like this become more rampant, especially in hot verticals like Mom and Dad and tech blogs, readers and followers start to turn a jaundiced eye toward the endorsement itself

59 percent of all links shared on social networks aren’t actually clicked on at all, implying the majority of article shares aren’t based on actual reading. People are sharing articles without ever getting past the headlines. So why is this the case—isn’t the body of an article supposed to be the most important part? What does this mean for content marketers? And what does this mean for our society?

It means that people don’t have time to read all your content and it also means that the sharing numbers game is overrated. I would rather have 100 people read an article and take action than brag about my post going viral with thousands of shares.

 It takes considerably less time and effort to share an article than it does to actually read it. It also comes with greater rewards; sharing an article is likely to earn you attention from friends and social media followers, or demonstrate that you’ve read the article, whereas actually reading it doesn’t earn you anything extrinsic.

We have all heard stories about influencers who demand free products or free food at restaurants for a good review. In an era of fake news, marketers need to stop being impressed with numbers that don’t mean a thing when it comes to sales.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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