Ever since influencer marketing became a staple of many brands’ digital marketing strategy, some have remained sceptical. Like every other form of marketing that arises, there are concerns over the disadvantages of influencer marketing. While you could say there are a few pitfalls, businesses can take the steps to mitigate these drawbacks. By staying well-informed, brands can implement an effective influencer marketing strategy that gives them the ROI that they’re looking for.
The Explosion of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has seen massive growth in the past 3 years alone, from $1.6 Billion in 2016 to a projected $6.5 billion in 2019. Because of this strong growth, there have been a couple of growing pains for the influencer marketing industry. Over in the US, the FTC has begun to more tightly regulate influencers, and UK regulations continue to evolve.
To many, the past few years of influencer marketing has been referred to as a “wild west” of marketing. Groundbreaking shifts in technology have created new landscapes with little precedent to follow. Because of this, a few notable controversies have popped up over the years. From fake followers to misleading campaigns, these few outliers have given some concern to marketers. However, the industry is quickly maturing to handle these issues. So let’s go over 7 of the most common concerns we’ve come across in the industry.
7 Perceived Disadvantages of Influencer Marketing
Any brand that’s hesitant to embrace influencer marketing will likely have more than one concern. And the cost of a failed campaign is going to put anyone off. As a result, we’ll be looking at these perceived problems in the industry and will be providing ways to mitigate any potential issues. These 7 disadvantages of influencer marketing are common worries for businesses, so let’s take each one apart.
1. Fake Followers are a Problem
In a 2019 survey, 42% marketers reported fake followers as their biggest concern. Controversies around inflated follower counts pop up frequently, like Love Island’s recent scandal revealing that most of the followers for the show’s stars are fake. There is a debate about whether or not it is the responsibility of the social media networks or of regulators to solve this issue. Because of the negative impact this issue can have on marketing campaigns, it stays clear in the minds of marketers.
There are techniques that companies can employ to filter out fake followers, such as checking for sudden spikes in follower growth.
The fixation on follower counts also speaks to a broader misunderstanding about influencer marketing, however. Companies trying to run an influencer campaign in-house can easily get caught up in how many followers a relevant personality has. However, brands must think about the bigger picture. Does this influencer truly have a connection with their audience? Does their audience trust them and look to them for purchasing decisions? Will their usual content style and tone of voice be suited to your campaign? And of course, are their followers legitimate. Despite the importance of legitimate followers being present, the follower count is just one piece to the large puzzle.
2. Brands Don’t Know Where to Start
One concern for influencer marketing is that it can be overwhelming to start a campaign. Picking a brand-consistent personality and crafting a campaign that leads to the most added value can put first-time marketers in over their head. Up to a third of the work in an influencer campaign can involve finding the right influencer.
While the barrier to entry alone can push marketers away from influencers, this is true of any new channel. Just like social media marketing, search engine marketing, and other recent innovations in the marketing space, influencer marketing holds abundant potential that can be tough to access at first.
This is another reason why brands often opt to work with influencer marketing agencies like ours at PMYB.
3. A Lack of Relevant Influencers in a Brand’s Niche
Believe it or not, nearly 4% of Instagram users can be considered macro influencers, while another 9% can be considered micro-influencers. Over 1 in 7 Instagrammers have some sort of significant reach. This means that there is plenty of opportunity for finding an influencer in a brand’s niche.
Agencies like ours specialise in making those connections and making everything happen. A holistic, authentic approach to creating your strategy, identifying your influencers and capturing your content will yield the best results in any campaign. There’s a lot of noise when it comes to picking the perfect influencer. Finding the right influencers can be tough, but it’s more than actionable.
4. Businesses Worry About Picking the Wrong Influencer
This is considered the “nightmare” scenario. Some marketers fear that the influencer will simply put out content that isn’t on-brand or has the wrong messaging. If this happens, it can have a negative impact on your brand. That study mentioned earlier showed that 28% of marketers are concerned with brand values and online reputation when it comes to influencer marketing.
Finding an influencer that operates in a brand’s niche that can clearly and honestly communicate the brand’s message and values is a challenge. But considering that 89% of marketers see influencer marketing as equal or better in ROI compared to other marketing channels, the benefits outweigh the apparent disadvantages of influencer marketing.
As this marketing channel matures, there will be more transparency around influencer marketing. It’s largely been regulated under the same roof as celebrity endorsements. But agencies, networks, and better-defined ethics will continue to make it easier for brands to connect with influencers to communicate their message.
5. Some Businesses are Afraid of the Leap
Traditional banner ads have an off switch. But now marketers and businesses will have to get used to an “always on” approach with influencer marketing. This means that, rather than creating an ad and clicking a button, brands have to develop and cultivate long-term relationships and guide their influencers through every step of a campaign. This can give some marketers cold feet, but this is actually already how many marketing channels already work.
Just like SEO, television, and print advertisements are a long term commitment, influencer marketing is all about the long game. Brands have to forge and maintain real relationships with real people. Considering that native advertisements like influencer marketing have 52% higher viewership and are preferred by consumers, these relationships can really pay off in the long run.
6. They Believe Influencers are a Risky Asset
With all of the talk of fake followers, influencer controversies, unethical travel marketing, and other disadvantages of influencers being reported, some people think that these personalities are too risky to rely on. This is one of the bigger concerns for companies who haven’t jumped into the influencer marketing game yet. While 75% of companies are already using some form of influencer marketing, only 27% of those not using it intend on starting.
As we’ve discussed, there are a number of steps that marketers can take to minimise the losses and maximise the benefits. Just like with any marketing channel, there can be risks involved. If companies approach marketing smartly, they can avoid the downsides.
When you consider the benefits to influencer marketing, any of the risks associated with it become justified. While marketers estimate that at least 10% of their spend is lost on fake followers, branded posts still receive more engagement than organic posts from users with over 10,000 followers. Plus, ROI is still considered to be equal to or better than other channels. This means that, despite the risks, there is still plenty of benefits to be had.
7. They Don’t Know How to Track an Influencer Marketing Campaign
Tracking the effectiveness of a campaign can be daunting to some. Understanding what counts as authentic engagement, measuring brand equity, and translating marketing spend into ROI is a concern for some. This alone can be enough for brands to shy away from influencer marketing, since they might not have the capability to measure.
With influencer marketing, you need to start measuring your campaign’s progress right away. This means that the metrics must be understood before the campaign even begins. Depending on what you’re goals are, there are many ways you can measure ROI.
Those looking to track sales can easily do so by using tracking links or by simply attributing X% of sales to influencers during the campaign period. Those looking to increase their brand awareness can pay attention to the CPM, CPC or CPE of a campaign.
One thing you should avoid doing is making a direct comparison of your paid social metrics and influencer marketing metrics. Influencer marketing campaigns provide additional value that sole paid social campaigns simply don’t. For instance, the first impression of seeing a sponsored brand advert on a Facebook banner is a lot different from seeing your favourite influencer recommending that same brand in a sponsored video. Because of this reason, the sheer value of influencers is a lot stronger than a simple banner/video ad.
Despite this, combining influencers with paid social can be very effective – it is something we introduced into our campaigns earlier this year.
What Should an Ideal Influencer Marketing Campaign Look Like?
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for influencer marketing campaigns. As with any marketing venture, it’s important to have the right plan, expertise, and goals for your business. Influencer marketing campaigns have some pitfalls, but the benefits can be huge.
Our own campaigns always start with the vetting of influencers to make sure that they’re crafting authentic content. We connect them with businesses and brands that they resonate with, allowing us to create compelling content and communicate the campaign messages of our clients.
Every influencer campaign should be aligned with your other marketing initiatives – that includes your paid social and OOH advertising campaigns. And you will always benefit from that creative spark that uniquely differentiates your campaign.
Reaching Your Audience
While there are some perceived disadvantages of influencer marketing, many of them can be mitigated by taking the right steps. Treating your influencer relationships like a human connection, embracing the “always on” approach to marketing, and having clear goals are just one way to launch a successful campaign.
The new age of digital marketing is going to see even more brands embrace influencers. These personalities offer a powerful channel for connecting with consumers directly. Marketers who want to stay ahead should keep the pitfalls of influencer marketing in mind if they want to avoid them and craft a powerful influencer campaign.