INFLUENCER MARKETING: The scam costing brand’s thousands and what companies are getting wrong

We hear about it all the time, INFLUENCERS. And we see them all the time too, many with tens of millions of followers and oftentimes we see them selling brands while doing what they love.

And we see influencers living the high life, traveling the world and doing whatever they want. It’s easy to assume that they are clearly providing value to those they serve, otherwise, how could they come close to affording 20% of the life they are showing? They MUST be elevating the brands they are representing! And hell…they have so many followers!

And yes…brands ARE spending money on influencers…a lot. E Marketer had a great study that shows just that. Here’s an example: if a YouTuber has between ONLY 500-5000 followers, they made an average of 315$ per video! No wonder why kids would rather become YouTubers than astronauts. How does that get factored into the marketing budget of many brands? Oftentimes they will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to use them to peddle their brand or product.

But lately, we are finding more and more cases of influence marketing absolutely failing. You may have heard of an Instagrammer named Arii who had close to 3 million followers. She launched a clothing line and….couldn’t even sell 36 shirts. This is a trend that many brands are painfully experiencing themselves. Where was the disconnect?

What got many influencers to where they are on their respective platforms isn’t going to result in conversion for you if their audience isn’t your audience. And even if it IS your audience, why should they trust you? If an influencer is partying around on a beach all day, why should they be seen as a trusted expert reviewing your computer software?

This is where micro-influencers come in, EXPERTS in a niche field and trusted by their audience. If there is clear overlap, there is potential benefit AND much more reasonable fees. Here is an example: I help market a 3D printing accessories company (most people haven’t been in a room with a 3D printer so it’s a fine example of a niche field). There are micro-influencers WITHIN the 3D printing community however who speak their language and have a passion for what brought the community together. A micro-influencer within these parameters giving high praise to your product in a genuine fashion CAN benefit your brand and lead to tangible results.

But how can you bypass influencers and have YOUR brand become a micro-influencer in the world you’re in? Well first, you have to identify who your target market is and make it as narrow as possible while also remembering you’re dealing with individuals. You have to identify their problems, their concerns, what keeps them up at night, what excites them, what their passion is, their ‘language’, what kind of shows they watch, what kind of pages they follow, what kind of blogs they read, and knowing what makes them tick.

Once you know who you are targeting you have to build connections and relationships,. That means engaging with the crowd (and yes that takes time). That means finding their posts and responding to them on Twitter, that means finding them on LinkedIn while reaching out with a related message, that means finding them on Instagram and commenting on their stories and photos, and yes that also means SPENDING money on targeted ad budgets to truly reach your ideal customer or audience.

Be on the right side of this wave or you and your brand will become washed up.

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