Make or break moment in marketing
A make or break moment in marketing: overcoming influencer fatigue
The influencer marketing landscape
Influencer marketing has become a cornerstone of every brand’s marketing strategy. The industry was worth almost $14 billion in 2021 (a 42% year-on-year increase from $9.7 billion in 2020) and is projected to exceed $16 billion this year. Brands continue to invest because they continue to see positive results. With this expansion, an influx of “influencers” have come forward to cash in on brands' booming budgets.
The reality is that we all have influence to some degree. Whether that’s followers online (be it 50 or 50,000 of them), expertise in your area of work or people that rely on your advice in day-to-day life. Of course, there’s a difference between the big celebrity names plugging your products and the everyday micro-influencers posting their try-on hauls.
Regardless of the type of influencer, consumers are increasingly worn out on this kind of content. They’re skeptical, unengaged and starved for authenticity.
Macro vs. micro vs. authentic influencer
First, let’s clarify the types of influencers and the content they typically create. These days, people get even more granular—categorizing influencers all the way from mega to nano—we’re gonna keep it simple and examine 3 key types of influence.
A macro-influencer refers to someone with a large following. This outsized level of influence is oftentimes quantified by follower count (typically at least over 100,000) or are considered bonafide celebrities.
These are your big-name, paid PR partnership type of influencers. They’ve hit, or in some cases far surpassed, benchmarks set by marketers. These days, we’re seeing signs that influencers can’t influence like they once could. In fact, recent studies have found only 3% of consumers are influenced by celebrity influencers to purchase specific products.
As a result, marketers are unsurprisingly moving away from macro-influencer partnerships and in recent years and begun investing heavily in the micro-influencer space.
A micro-influencer is a person with a social media presence that is larger than a normal person’s but smaller than a celebrity’s. These influencers typically use their platform to promote products and brands that align with their personal expertise or areas of interest.
Even though their follower counts may be lower, their engagement rates are consistently higher than their macro and celebrity counterparts. Not to mention they are, by and large, easier for marketers to come by. So, it's no surprise that marketers and brands are more interested in working with micro-influencers than traditional celebrities for influencer marketing campaigns. 77% of marketers say micro influencers top their list of ideal influencers.
The rise of micro-influencers has been sharp— almost half (47.3%) of influencers are considered to be micro-influencers. But what’s next now that micro-influencer content is the new influencer marketing norm? Once considered more authentic, discerning consumers are starting to see through any sort of incentivized content.
3. Authentic influencers
Here’s where the new(ish) category comes in. Authentic influencers (also referred to as no-payment influencers) refer to individuals that are truly knowledgable in particular areas and share their expertise and recommendations, online or out in the real world, purely out of a desire to share advice rather than the motivation of monetary gain.
Yes, the title can sound like an oxymoron to the modern consumer. But the reality is that these people exist. Born out of the “no more gatekeeping” trend or the deeply human desire to talk about the things we love, there are ways to connect with people who want to try out products that relate to their area of expertise and give their honest feedback both to the brand and to consumers who may not be as knowledgable.
The real question is, how do you access these kinds of real-world experts who are willing and able to try out your products and talk about them online or out in the world? You’ll need to find an advocacy solution that connects you to a particular target audience. Check out how ExpertVoice allows you to do just that.
The rise of influencer fatigue
What’s behind this shift?
A lot of this change can be attributed to a sort of “been there, done that” attitude. You can only surface the same content so many times to an audience and keep their attention. Especially considering the sharp rise in screen time experienced during the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2019, the percentage of ads and sponsored content has been slowly increasing. Some users are reporting that one in every four posts is some type of paid content.
When people see #sponsored on the caption of a post, chances are they’re taking the recommendation with a major grain of salt, if they even bother to pay attention to it at all. The demand for (truly) authentic content is at an all-time high.
The importance of authenticity is at an all-time high
We’re in the middle of an influence revolution. Consumers are skeptical, paid product posts are ubiquitous and buying conversations are increasingly out of a brand’s control. Brands that understand where influencer marketing is heading and how to invest their time and money strategically will thrive, while those who miss this window of opportunity may struggle.
Although 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content their brands create resonates as authentic, 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic. There’s a major disconnect there, and that disconnect is costing brands. So although brands invest money and resources into influencer content, it’s increasingly missing the mark and being perceived as old-fashioned advertising.
ExpertVoice CEO Tom Stockham recently sat down with influencer marketing author, professor and expert Amanda Russell to discuss this make-or-break moment (you can check out the full recap here). This is what she had to say about how influencer fatigue means more and more of the conversation is outside of the brand's hands.
“Two-thirds of marketing is now done without us, meaning without the brand, without the marketers, meaning we can no longer push our messages out there.
So who is that two-thirds? That two-thirds is private, online and offline conversations. People are talking and they trust people that they resonate with. So the question as brands and marketers is how do we earn our way into the conversation? We can't do that by simply pushing our message and advertising out there.
To add to that, half of your audience is already gone. Most people have downloaded ad blockers or basically tuned them out anyway. Now, people are tired and burned out from seeing the overly produced Instagram curated life and see it as an ad. You may get awareness, but that's not influence and that is why I believe that influencer marketing, in order to understand it, we need to understand what is real influence and who and what is influencing our audience.”
And with the focus shifted to micro-influencers, no-payment and authentic influencers often fall by the wayside, with less than 1 in 5 brands adding them to their ideal collaborations list. This means many brands are missing out on a valuable awareness driver, which is likely to shape the future of marketing.
Brands who want to get ahead of this shift need to re-think how they understand influence. By re-evaluating how they research their target audience and truly investing in genuine relationships with authentically influential people who have the capacity to become longtime advocates for their brand.