Under the Influencer — 4 Ways to Call “Marketer” B.S.

“I just need one more follower… for the road.”
“I plan on touching the lives of millions of people this year…” Brad T. Influencer says.

Ugh. I’ve already turned my brain off as this motivational speaker/life coach blasts his overly cheerful malarkey into my earbuds.

“When did you start your motivationally speakings?” I ask Brad as I intentionally massacre the English language knowing there’s no way he’s listening to my mouth sounds.

“It’s always been a calling…”

My stomach lunges wildly at my chest as I swallow a mouthful of bile. I open Twitter to vet him again. I’m sure that he doesn’t know that I looked at his count of 800 last week when his fake assistant (him with another email account #bradsassistant) scheduled this meeting and am now looking at a big dead following of 12K.

“This is Stephanie…”

Sadly, his paid for followers haven’t retweeted or liked a single poorly crafted tweet that he’s posted. If he had been a smarter human he would have paid for a few retweets as well. I text Sherri & Brian,“OMG, look up @influentialbradspeaks” and seconds later my COO sends me back a few lolz and a cryface. Sherri OConnor speak fluent emojinese. Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz replies with a solitary “Ugh.”

We’re a constant bullshit target and, of course, we’ve been burned.

Prettayyyyyy burned…

As a team that utilizes “influencers” for strategy and puts on conferences and meet ups we are connected to about twice the world’s population in keynote speakers, thought leaders, insert-tech-or-app-name-here evangelists and celebrities that whose own mothers have never heard of. Yes, we’ve gotten our butts handed to us enough times to not want anymore servings of room temperature ass.

Soooooo… without further adieu here are the simple ways we tell if we’re talking to someone that has credibility:

1. The NASA Test

What do they do outside of Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, Vine etc.? We have a good friend who is a speaker and works pretty high up at NASA. So she’s pretty much baller status.

NASA = The Blueprint for Baller

I’m using this as an example because what she’s attached to is so very massive and important. Her goals are not just to amplify Veronica but to help educate the world and connect brilliant people to enable space exploration.

This is what we want to amplify and put our money towards. If I’m just paying a person that’s going to just buy burritos and weed I’ll walk my happy ass to friggin Taco Bell and buy a Beef Gordita Crunchwrap from Brendan The Nose-Pierced Burrito Guy. It’s a different story when I’m doing something for my business and I want to use someone that reaches the world.

I’m going to use my money on someone who stands for something.

2. Audit like the wind!

Please dear lord don’t just use Twitter audit or a website to audit them. Most pay-for-followers sites are crafty enough to be unauditable (is that a word? I don’t care. Moving on). Actually go in and look and see what the engagement is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… whatever you’re interested in. If you or your company is about to align yourself with someone in ANY way you need to look at the ingredients on the side of the damn box before you buy the cereal.

Hmmm… this is 93% malarkey. I wonder what malarkey is…

Look at them on MULTIPLE platforms. Yes, most will have one very strong platform but if they’re not smart enough to drive traffic to another of their own platforms what makes you think they’ll be able to do it to one of yours?

“I’m really strong on MySpace… other things are kinda not-so-much.”

NOW look at their content. Does it relate to your message? Does it relate to what you’re trying to sell or accomplish?

(I could write a very in depth article about how to audit folks. If you’d like me to do that just comment below and I might if I’m not too lazy or think it could be funny.)

3. The Trick Question

Every brand has a mission statement. That statement needs to be clear and concise. If you’re an “influencer” then you’re a brand in your own right and should have things set in place accordingly like website, mission statement and social accounts. Brands think product when thinking of something they’re putting my money towards… sooooooo here’s the sneaky question that means “what’s your mission statement?”:

Maybe it’s to sell burritos and get high…

You ask an “influencer” this and they’ll either win, stammer or bullshit. If they don’t have a mission or a higher cause then they don’t have a work ethic or a driver and I have zero use for them.

In the end, if it sounds, smells and looks like cow dung it’s usually cow dung.

It’s brown and it smells terrible but this guy is telling me it’s a diamond… should I buy it?

4. Does YOUR TEAM Like Them?

There’s this guy that’s kinda popular (or at least says he is) on Snapchat and I just don’t get it. He’s annoying, self-serving and lacks anything that could remotely resemble personality, talent or ability. He recently reached out to me about doing a project and takeover together and I politely declined.

He may have some impressive numbers but if his brand doesn’t fit with yours or you get a feeling that’s a little icky then listen to that feeling. We don’t use cleaners, babysitters or even car washes if we get a bad vibe so why would we use an influencer?

We tend to use people that I would consider hiring as part of my team because there’s a chance that they will be.

In the end, strategy, study and a little intuition wins the game. Quite often said game is a long one. We’ve seen that it’s very rare for a single “influencer” doing a single engagement to have a lasting impression (internally we refer to these engagements as “The BIG Splash”). Our goals focus on community and that very rarely involves one human because that’s not parallel to the build.

Building, learning & strategy trump “influence” every damn day

Influencer strategy is an important PART of success but building a strong ecosystem for your brand is one of the most important things to implement first. It needs to hold up under pressure, not bottleneck and show that you (and your brand) are similarly defined on multiple platforms…

but that’s another article.

If you like this article and want to be part of the discussion please retweet with the tweet below. If you’re interested in more then follow me and my partner Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz (the not funny one) and see how we bring the strategy for brands at Backlamp LLC.