“wake me up when i'm famous signage” by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Influencer Marketing Is Dying, And You Killed It

That’s why we can’t have nice things.

Businesses have had a big-time problem for years:

People don’t trust ‘em.

And they shouldn’t. Most marketers approach their audience without any understanding of consumer psychology. They are salesy, pushy, and they keep on trying to stick whatever they’re selling down our throats.

Enter influencer marketing — the perfect response to the customer’s skepticism and wariness.

It sounded too good to be true: influencers come with a built-in audience that already believes in them. If followers trust their Internet celebrities, they will be more than happy to buy whatever they recommend.


If you meet someone and the first thing they say is how cool they are — you already know they aren’t cool at all. But if your friend introduces you to someone they think is cool, you’ll pay attention.

But if there’s one truth in the business world, it’s this:

Marketers ruin everything.

And they killed Influencer Marketing. It became an advertising bubble that is just now exploding — and it will soon rest 6 feet deep.

Ok, I’m lying.

Influencer marketing is not dead. But bad influencer marketing is.

But to find out why, we first need to ask ourselves this:

Where do influencers get their power from?

The key difference and advantage influencers have comes from their pure authenticity. They are expected to be trustworthy and always have their audience best interests in mind.

Influencers are only trusted because they are perceived as authentic critics.

They are a friendly voice — one that is (supposedly) free from any business and advertising pressure. One that has built an audience by providing raw, unfiltered value around a specific area of expertise.

But, how are marketers killing influencers?

Marketers are like dementors from Harry Potter. They come floating through the sky covered in dark hooded cloaks. The can sense and feed on authenticity, draining influencers of their power and relevance.
A Marketer, left, sucking the authenticity off lifestyle blogger Harry, right.

Every influencer campaign requires three elements to be perfectly aligned. Let me show you graphically:

From my Twitter @itsmartisanchez

Ideally, brands should be capable enough to find the right influencer with the right audience. But where most brands go wrong is in the actual message being conveyed:

Companies are possessive with their communication. They want it to follow THEIR practices, THEIR standards, THEIR market research…
But they forget it’s not about them.

With influencer marketing, brands need to be humble enough to recognize and accept that, for the first time…

…they are not the experts — the influencers are.

They did not build a relevant audience. The influencers did.

They did not gain their trust and attention. The influencers did.

They don’t know what their followers love and hate, or what content has the highest chance of going viral. You guessed it, the influencers do.

So, brand and marketers: if you don’t want to throw your hard-earned dollars away with influencer marketing, give the reigns of your campaign to your partnered influencers and let go of all creative control.
“man sitting on concrete roadway” by John Fornander on Unsplash

“But, are influencers to blame for any of this?”

Yes and No. And here’s why:

61% of customers have unfollowed an influencer because they “work with inappropriate brands” or “endorse too many products.” And 43% felt influencers are “often inauthentic” and work with brands “they don’t actually believe in.

…which goes against the competitive advantage of influencer marketing against other advertising methods — the pre-existing trust between brand and consumer. It just ruins the whole purpose of influencer marketing.

Influencers should never collaborate with companies that don’t align with their personal branding. But why do they do it?

Here’s how most people become influencers:

They are passionate about some topic (niche), and they decide to create content around it. They never think they’ll be able to cash out with it — they do it just for fun. Over time, they build an audience of people who are also passionate about the same thing and enjoy consuming their content.

Until one day, a guy on a very expensive suit approaches them and offers to pay them money just to add their product into the mix. After spending thousands of hours working for nothing, the now-influencer agrees.

Most influencers are not marketing experts. They don’t know about branding, about funnels, about advertising strategy, or about consumer psychology. They are just having fun.

So they say yes to any and all offers to get paid for their work. And who wouldn’t?

So yes, influencers should be more cautious with who they work with so that the authenticity-effect is not lost in vain. But it’s also not their job to know about all that.

It’s the guy with the suit and the MBA who should know better.

Thanks for reading! You can follow me here on Medium or on Twitter for more stuff like this.

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