I loved the movie ‘300’. It is easily on my top 10 list of favorite movies. The entire notion of fighting for freedom and believing in something greater than yourself simply moved me. You can even say it changed my outlook on life. Why am I even talking about ‘300’? Maybe because I found it influential in many ways.
Despite the initial skepticism, continual stumbling blocks, and inconsistent regulation, influencer marketing has steadily grown into a US $10 billion market and made its way into the marketing war rooms of most brands.
Having had the opportunity to be part of marketing teams across different industries, be it luxury teas to human resources or artificial intelligence to millennial travel, I was often amazed to see how influencer marketing was used to reach and even engage the most elusive of target audience. My only concern was that, in trying to keep with market trends, most of us might have lost sight of the true purpose of Influencer marketing.
Is ‘Reach’ the best way to measure influence?
The very definition of influence is to have the ability to cause effect or change behavior.
If that is the very basis of influencer marketing why then are we focusing primarily on the wrong metrics? Why is the industry giving ‘reach’ more credit than it deserves? How does that in anyway guarantee true influence?
We define, select, pay and even follow influencers based on ‘reach’. How many of us have ‘reach’ as a KPI or a key factor in choosing an influencer? Don’t get me wrong, brand awareness is a valid goal and page views, impressions and active view are good KPIs but don’t you feel we are still missing the point of Influencer marketing?
Putting things in perspective
Influencer marketing should effect change. If my hypothetical selfie with the mysterious Satoshi receives 2,000,000 views and 100,000 likes does that mean people are aware of who I am as a person? Just because your post reached 1 million people, does that mean those 1 million people started favoring you over another brand?
Ad Fraud, are we to blame?
Reach is getting way more credit than it deserves and it has the community eating from its hand. With the majority of brands focusing on ‘reach’, it is no wonder that influencers and influencers wannabes began inflating their follower base with bots. Demand, meet supply.
While bots may seem harmless, its impact on the industry is in fact widespread.
Digiday reported that a single day’s worth of posts that were tagged with hashtags, #sponsored or #ad on Instagram contained over 50% fake engagements. In fact, out of 118,007 comments, only 20,942 were not made by bot followers.
Fake bots and followers are not a minor issue that can be overlooked. It, in fact, it addresses a much larger problem in our industry; Ad fraud. Tackling ad fraud takes more than funding ICO’s of new blockchain technology while secretly praying that the tokens we purchase become the next bitcoin. It requires a change in industry culture. Perhaps we should admit that we as a community have been too focused on reach. It was us that created this toxic culture that eventually gave rise to the bots, fake profiles, and automated engagement.
In the end
A person deserves to be called influential when they actually cause an effect. Personally, I would say my grandmother was influential, I might even say the movie ‘300’ was influential. After all, they both had some effect on the way I might approach my life. They both inspire me to remain disciplined and even reflect on where my passion truly lies. That, to me is effecting change
Influencer marketing is not about finding someone with the biggest following but it is finding that someone that is capable of making an effect on their followers.
The next time we engage an influencer, perhaps it is time we look past ‘reach’ and consider them for their engagement rates or successful conversions instead? Maybe, we can look at their interactions with the community, study the quality of comments being left for their posts and even use influencer analytics to further analyze our influencers.
In the end, I am sure we can all agree that making informed decisions are key to any successful marketing campaign.