Influencer marketing and influencers “…will entrench as defining voices in consumer marketing, as brands concede advertising control and look to passionate brand advocates to sway consumers on social media.” Or so says “social media strategist” Stacy DeBroff.
I predict* influencer marketing will be just one more idea in the list of dubious concepts cast in front of ADD marketers by hucksters in search of a quick buck. It’ll be somewhere near “eyeballs, man, it’s about eyeballs” of the late 90s.
The problem with influencers is that, usually, they’re not. Unless you get a guy like PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg. His huge following of 53 million subscribers, generating 14.7 billion views on YouTube sounds awfully tempting.
You’d want to take advantage of Google’s Preferred program and buy pre-roll video to reach that impressive audience, right? After all, Mr. Pie is very influential and his followers are bound to find that your products and services are irresistible when placed in proximity to him.
Except when he decides to run anti-Semitic videos full of hateful messages and imagery. And had to be dropped like a hot potato by Disney. Think they’re going to be looking carefully at everything they acquired in the Maker acquisition? And want to bet how much influencer marketing they’re doing with their valuable IP?
How do you think your brand equity would fare being seen before that type of “humor?” And if you have been conned into running influencer marketing campaigns, do you know how every one of those influencers is representing your brand? Have you–not your agency–read every word they’ve posted and watched every second of video they’ve uploaded?
Three things I learned from Mr. Pie:
- Never work with an influencer marketing agency. If you want to have an endorser of some kind, pick a couple and work directly with them. There’s no need to lose control of your brand to dozens of influencers who you don’t even know and can’t control.
- Read and watch everything. You may not pre-approve everything (although I highly recommend it), but you’d better be sure the association between the influencer and your brand is positive.
- Consider your brand equity. You’ve got brands that are worth, in many cases, billions of dollars. You wouldn’t give the keys to your car to somebody with a blog and a YouTube channel. Why would you do the same with an asset worth orders of magnitude more?
Takeaway: Before you give control of your message and the context in which it appears to an “influential,” ask if you can’t get a better return by using one of the other many advertising channels at your disposal. Avoid bad brand association. And win.
*Very easy prediction to make. Read the nonsense here, which is just a taste of what the influencer marketing crowd is peddling.