- Casper has highlighted the growing power of social media influencers to make or break brands, naming its own online advocates as one of the risk factors facing its initial public offering.
- Influencer marketing has expanded into an $8bn business as celebrities, experts and other people with large followings on social media platforms charge thousands of dollars to promote products.
- But many influencers have BOTS as followers.
- 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.
People today are not looking for monogamous relationships with brands. They can be in love with more that one brand in any sector at any given time. What’s more, if a brand is inauthentic, they can spot it from miles away. Nothing kills the mood faster than phony, forced content from brand ambassadors talking about the same product for weeks or months.
The Wall Street Journal just published an in-depth article about corruption and lack of accountability among highly-paid brand ambassadors. According to the article:
- Fraud taints the influencer marketplace. Influencers have strained ties with advertisers by lying about the number of their followers, sometimes buying fake ones by the thousands. They also have damaged their credibility with real-life followers by promoting products they don’t use.
- An analytics firm investigated 1.84 million Instagram accounts and found more than 50 percent used fraud to inflate the number of followers.
- Some influencers had large numbers of followers who weren’t real people, meaning the accounts had been bought or were inactive.
- The investigation confirmed that “Influencers” will steal $1.3 billion from advertisers this year by charging them for an audience that they never served.
If you’re relying on influencer marketing in 2019, there’s a decent chance your brand is in deep trouble. The influencer industry is full of celebrity-level social media personalities who charge a fortune for insincere product endorsements, blatant cash-grab posts that come across like low-budget commercials, and brands that are dazzled by follower counts rather than real engagement. And this is not likely to change unless we get back to what made influencer marketing amazing in the first place.
But what about customer influencers? What works for one person is not going to work for another.
Casper spends a huge amount of money on marketing and still, their return rate is 20% according to their own numbers. To say that their brand is reliant on influencers should be a huge warning flag to every investor. You can’t surrender your brand to influencers; you can use influencers as part of your marketing but they can turn on you in an internet second.
The best way to gain real influencers is by delivering a superior brand experience that’s so good you surpass their expectations so much they tell the world via social media. But, the moment you over-rely on influencers you’re losing control of your brand.