Influencer marketing is broken: this is how we can fix it
A common way to reach young people is influencer marketing. An entire industry has emerged out of it, which continues to flourish and grow. But there is yet something fundamentally wrong with most collaborations between brands and influencers. Influencer marketing is broken. How can we fix it?
There are a number of fundamental flaws in the way in which brands, influencers and agencies work together. I’m not not talking here about the lack of transparency in the way many influencers communicate about paid collaborations. The existing and new rules are clear: be clear about advertising, be considerate of minors and make it known who you are. Industry association DDMA explains them in crystal clear terms on influencerrules.com. The fact that some influencers nevertheless – consciously or unconsciously – do not abide by these rules is not the reason why influencer marketing can be so much better.
AGENCY REVENUE MODEL
The first step that needs to be improved is the selection of influencers. The importance of brands is to only work with creators who match the brand values, enjoy popularity in the target market, are able to promote the product credibly and fit within the budget. The revenue model of many agencies is to manage a portfolio of a select number of influencers. This does not have to be at odds with each other but it often does. Most of the time, the recommended influencers are not the very best match for brands, but happen to be all managed by the engaged agency. One possible solution to this problem is a thorough data analysis that maps out all creators, regardless of dual interests, and only then move on to the next step: selecting the right batch. An analysis that puts the interests of the brand first, not the financial interests of the agency.
IMPRESSIONS OR EFFECTIVENESS?
In addition to influencer selection, reporting and providing insight into the of the realized impact is something that can and must be improved. Often, reporting is done in terms of impressions, views or number of subscribers. Sure, impressions are needed to spread a message. But it doesn’t say anything about the actual effectiveness of the campagne. The other day, I saw a marketeer proudly announce that his TikTok campaign realized more views than the average number of people who watch the famous Dutch TV show: ‘Boer Zoekt Vrouw’. Apart from this really screwed up comparison, he couldn’t tell anything about the actual impact on the viewers’ knowledge, attitude or behavior. If you can’t tell anything about that, the success of your campaign is just an opinion. Not a fact.
DATA-DRIVEN INFLUENCER MARKETING
Earned media value has the same flaws. It assigns a monetary value to your estimated reach, which is based on a number of assumptions, but doesn’t solve this attribution challenge. One solution is to conduct a brand impact measurement among the reached target audience vs. the unreached portion. In short: data-driven influencer marketing. Not exciting or sexy, but necessary to actually be able to say something about the realized impact of influencer marketing.
ONLY ORGANIC DISTRIBUTION
Finally, the distribution phase is an area for improvement. It never ceases to amaze me that many influencer campaigns solely float on organic reach. When you put so much effort into collaborations and branded content, why do you put so little effort after publishing? Praying that it will catch on and create reach is the motto of many brands, while it can be much smarter to extra promote that awesome content with targeted ad campaigns. A little less content and influencers, but more advertising budget. This also goes against the interests of influencers and their agents; after all, they don’t earn anything from the ads, but it does contribute to the success of your brand. Influencer marketing can offer a lot of value for brands, but as this market matures, it is time for the next step. A step that leads to more
transparency and impact. Influencer marketing is broken, but we can fix it. Let’s get to work!
WANT TO READ MORE FROM PETER?
Fancy to read more blogs written by Peter? Our living encyclopedia wrote about three new YouTube channels, that are incredibly successful. Because well, generating millions of views on YouTube is the ultimate goal of countless creators. Many do not succeed, even after years of hard work and trying. But some channels ‘explode’ within months after launching. How do these new successful YouTube channels do this? And what can you as a marketer learn from them in your approach to successfully using YouTube? Peter highlights three examples and unravels their success. Read more about these successful YouTube channels here.
Co-Founder / Product Lead