From the Influencers

'Fake Influencers' Having Increasing Impact on Influencer Marketing

May 05, 2017

The rise of influencer marketing, coupled with an economic landscape that's increasingly forbidding in just about every front, has led to many influencers that build influence not completely organically, but rather via some less-than-scrupulous tools. This level of obfuscation has made it that much harder to spot who a real influencer is and who's just had their numbers artificially inflated. Thankfully, there's one simple—if not necessarily easy—counter to this: education.

It's not surprising that influencers, or potential influencers, are turning to these channels. The sheer growth of the market has gotten everyone interested in getting a slice of the action, and with the YouTube “adpocalypse” still actively gutting YouTube channel revenues thanks to what amounted to a bad joke, content makers are looking for new ways to keep from starving to death. Since only so many users can afford Patreon—seriously? Two bucks per month per channel? Hulu will stream 50 channels for $40, and if cable becomes a better value than YouTube, all is lost—that's led to more attempts at influencer marketing.

Naturally, this is a problem for those wanting to use influencer marketing to promote products. With tools like Instagress adding Instagram followers, it's getting difficult to tell just how many of those platforms are organically, properly built and how many just paid a service to ramp up activity. Even looking at things like channel engagement only go so far; when a YouTube channel has a million subscribers, who wants to go through all the comments and discover that, most of the time, only about 50 people are engaged in the comments thread?

Thankfully, there are ways to help; tools like JMRConnect's CEI systems will help influencer marketers better evaluate potential sources of influence, helping marketers better justify the amounts spent on social media operations.

This is why those wanting to use influencer marketing need to look beyond numbers. It's not enough to look at a follower count. That's not to discount the value of reach; that's what kept the broadcast TV market going for decades and why Super Bowl ads still sell for millions a slot. Part of that, however, is the influencer marketer's doing; partially operating under these old rules, the industry has been demanding view counts and follower numbers as a condition of operations, not realizing that it's the influence, not the reach, that really matters. Fifty die-hard fans will beat a million paid onlookers every time.

Influence is more than just raw numbers. As long as the industry focuses its spending on the biggest numbers, potential influence marketers will inflate those numbers by any means necessary. That limits the value of influencer marketing, and makes us all worse off in the process.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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