The wonderful world of Instagram and all the industries that come with it, can be quite a whirlwind. If you aren’t new to the business side of Instagram it can feel overwhelming. A huge part of any business today is a thing called Influencer Marketing. Brands big and small will invest A LOT of time and money into this aspect because it can make or break a brand. Just like anything else on the internet, influencer marketing has different meanings to different people and brands will tailor it to their needs. It also has its ups and downs.
A few weeks ago we talked about some interesting findings from and InfluencerDB report in a news report of our own. In the InfluencerDB report are numbers showing that influencer engagement is dropping – quickly dropping.
The biggest drop is in travel influencer engagement. Moving from 8% in 2018 to 4.5% in the first quarter of 2019. Across the board, numbers seem to be jumping off the diving board. Naturally, this leads professionals to start talking about the good, the bad and the ugly.
With all of this going on, I wanted to get to the bottom of what influencer marketing actually is and how is it being affected by these drops.
What The Hell Is Influencer Marketing?
Before we can start to dissect the situation, we first have to first understand what “influencer marketing” is. The meaning varies between everyone involved. Professionals and influencers alike have their own version of the definition. This is how our interviewees define it:
“I define influencer marketing as the use of public figures to share a business’ products and information to their audience.” – Markyse Bernadin, creator of @RadientRove
“We define an influencer as someone on social media with a significant enough following that can be used as a marketing tool to target audiences in an effective way.” – Natalia Rubiano, CEO and founder of Grozina.com
“Influencer marketing for our company is the capacity to promote and get validation for a product, idea or movement from people with a direct reach to a defined audience. These could be organic or paid.” – Andre Rodriguez, CEO of Influencer Communications
In lamens terms, influencer marketing is the relationship between a brand and an influencer to promote a product or service to a specific audience. An example is this post by @meanderingmacaron in partnership with @vinsdeprovince.
Seems simple enough, right? It’s actually much more complicated than that.
Macro vs. Micro-Influencers
In order to have a successful influencer campaign, you have to find the right influencer. The first thing a brand has to do is decided “Do we want macro or micro?”
What exactly does that mean?
A macro-influencer is someone like Emily Luciano, who has a follower count of 414K. She has a large following and can reach a mass amount of people with one post.
A micro-influencer, on the other hand, is someone who has a smaller audience but has a niche market. This would be someone like Christian Caro, who has just under 6,000 followers.
But which one is the right one? Well, that depends on the brand and what they want their outcome to be.
Here’s what our professionals had to say when asked which their brand prefers:
“There are benefits in using both types, but the biggest deciding factor is individuality + brand alignment. The influencer’s creativity is a major key to the campaign because people are very aware of the high amounts of influencer marketing being done these days, and no one wants to follow a salesman,” said Bernadin.
Susan Stipcianos, co-founder of The Dream Agency gave us a prime example. “If its anti-cellulite treatment whose opinion would you take more seriously, a doctor or a beauty blogger? As with any campaign, the trick is to find the right partner for each campaign.”
Finally, Anna Anisin, founder of Formulated.by, keeps it short and sweet. “We use the less is more approach and work with micro-influencers vs mega influencers.”
So, What’s Going On?
Now that we have all the background out of the way, we can get to the nitty-gritty.
What’s happening is engagement across the board is basically plummeting. People seem to be losing interest in influencers and their sponsored content. It was all a rumor at first, but now numbers are supporting the claim. Numbers are one thing but I want to know what people on the front lines are experiencing.
Bernadin, an influencer herself, is seeing a big difference. “Yes! Engagement is quite lower than usual, but I feel that it’s forced me to engage more with my audience so they can see my new content.”
Not everyone is feeling the heat, however. Stipcianos says, “On our end, we haven’t noticed any change. The rhythm of marketing is actually more intense and the competition to work with the best is fierce.”
That leaves us with a score of 1:1, what did the others have to say?
Rubiano, whose company focuses on everything from branding to social media management thinks “overall engagement on sales and sponsored posts have decreased.” She comments that influencers don’t want to partner with brands that only offer a one and done type deal. They want more than product.
Rodriguez begs to differ, saying Influence Communications is seeing great engagement. “Every day we notice an increase in the reach and engagement for many influencers.”
“Not in the last month, I think changes will take longer.” A very good point made by Nidal Barake, CEO of @gluttonomy. Some brands are experiencing changes right away, while others might not experience changes for a few more weeks or months. Maybe none at all.
Here’s what Anisin has to say. “Influencers are losing major engagement and will continue to do so. Influencers compete with IG’s ad platform and that’s why they’re suppressing their power of influence.”
Anisin brings up an interesting point about Instagram’s erratic behavior around their algorithm. “One colleague pointed out that it may be IG’s strategy to get those influencers back to Facebook, which is a dying platform.” It’s interesting because that’s exactly what’s happening. Every day it seems like more and more influencers are turning to Facebook as well as other platforms to promote their brands.
Now it’s time to wrap up all this information. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Influencer marketing is the pairing of brands and influencers to promote a product to a specific audience
- Macro-influencers have a broader reach of audience and can be useful when a brand wants a mass amount of people to see them
- Micro-influencers have a more niche audience and are great for up and coming brands who align with the influencer’s values
- Engagement is dropping for multiple categories of influencers
- Some brands are being affected by these drops and others have not seen a significant difference in their influencer campaigns analytics
It’s safe to say these answers by our industry professionals reflect what’s going on in the heads of others in the community. Influencer Marketing has taken a big hit these past few months but it’s starting to bounce back. We need to refine that meaning of what an influencer is and how brands can utilize different ones in order to recover from this. It’ll take some hard work on everyone’s part but it’s completely do-able.