Unspoken dilemma: Are influencers at shorter end of the stick?

Sounds familiar? “Looking for instagram accounts for work. 10k followers and above only. No Payment but we will be giving out products worth XXX”

All creators are not equal

The misconception about influencers and print materials.

The jump into working with influencers is more apparent today than before. Magazines with revenues mainly from selling their print circulations, editorial team prepares their columns which resonates with their readers. After all, aligned readers turns into sales of prints. Of course, the more popular a particular print, the more difficult to get featured in them and more costly to place an ad in it. Prints hold strong to their voice because they know, losing it would mean losing readers, in turn print sales.

As social media came into the picture, marketers adopt similar approach to influencers. Event invitations, product reviews and many more became more rampant as more marketers jump into the bandwagon. Taking content creators as free advertisement boards to place their products and events. But…there is no sales from readership…and NO, banner ads don’t work anymore to sustain content production.

What is then the fair value exchange for influencers when collaboration borders exploitation (for lack of better words).

2010: The year social media come of age

With more conversation happening over social media, individuals of similar interest gathers online, follow each other and take each others opinions more seriously than regular prints.

Blogs, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are convergent points of conversations of communities large or small. We speak more about things we love through product or service reviews. We search information about new product or services online more often than before. Digital became the new print as years move on.

Marketers begin to realize how social media conversations are affecting consumers today.

Most influencers started preparing content on their social media channels as hobby…writing about food trips they had, cosmetics and skincare they tried, that beautiful nail art they’ve gotten over the weekend, and the list goes on. From merely creating content for their own entertainment, creators turn into influencers in topics they are passionate about as their following in social media grows.

All because influencer’s content resonate and is of relevance to their audience. This is greatly boosted by the fact consumers are less likely to pay for content compared to yesteryears.

We feel there is obligation to stay true to our followers.

Being an influencer is easy.

“Just take some pictures, type out several hundred words or less, or lock,stock barrel from press release from marketers to make them happy. This will ensure steady stream of invites and products/services for you to review. “

For those who think influencers have it easy to create content, then it would make better sense that they create multiple blogs, instagram and various social media accounts to publish their own content.

THEN it hits them, it is not about creating content. It’s about creating engaging and sharable content that resonates with the influencer’s audience. If marketers are leveraging on the value of influencers with their followers, shouldn’t there be a fair value exchange involved in collaboration?

Influencers on the short end of the stick?

I find that it is a vicious cycle on its own with neither side to put the blame on.

Marketers realize the importance of influencers in their work. However, their approach is still pretty much similar to traditional print media. “We’ve gotten X blog posts in Y blogs, X pictures in Y Instagram profiles with Z amount likes….etc”

While marketers have their agenda to fulfill, influencers are on the short end of the stick by providing product reviews, attending media/event invites on weekends or after work hours to build a portfolio of content hoping one day, their efforts would pay off someday.

Great that marketers get the online conversations they are looking from the influencers…HOWEVER….When producing content, influencers:

1. Spend time their time (usually unpaid)

2. Incur travelling expenses to event/media invites

3. Cost of their devices (pretty photos don’t come from a magic wand)

Naturally as more collaborations comes towards influencers, one would think of stepping up the game to have some paid engagements while maintaining their relevance and resonance with their audience. Turning content creation into a career.

While it was easier to juggle creating content when one is a student, reality is very much different for those who are working fulltime.

Freebies, samples and good words don’t pay bills required to sustain passion.

Marketers are looking for scaled publicity however neglects influencers wellfare. An invitation to an event does not equate to a write-up if it does not jive with influencer’s audience, a product review may not necessarily get a positive review.

Leveling the playing field for influencers.

Influencers who are moving forward are usually those familiar with analytics. Unlike traditional print, more information about how your content engage with your audience can be used for various purpose eg content repurposement.

While some marketers would say “why should I pay influencers?”, the biggest item they are missing out on is the value of the content. Googling online may show you many results on how to value content but let me have it in few of the frequently asked questions by marketers:

1. How many people read that particular blog post and reacted to it?

2. How many people was reached by the Facebook post?

3. Youtube video? How many people watch it till the end?

With analytics information about every piece of content you created for the marketer prepared, they could no longer deny the value of your content and your relationship with your audience.

This is also where we come in to level the playing fields for you. And as our commitment to influencers, all influencers use our products for FREE…eternally.

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Stay tuned for more insights and stories about influencers and the industry. Till next time.

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