Influencer Marketing : It’s not what you think

Myths about influencer marketing

“Oh, so you are a Blogger. So lucky, you must be getting everything free na?”

*Awkward Silence and forced smile*

“Do you do work?”

“Yup! I work at a digital marketing agency”

“Nice. What do you do?”

“I work with other bloggers and influencers for my clients”

“Hmmm”

This is what happens when I attend a blogger meet or events where I am introduced as a blogger. I’ve been blogging for a few years and since the past two years I’ve been exclusively working with other bloggers and influencers for various campaigns for my clients. Influencer Marketing is still at a nascent stage in India. Marketeers are still experimenting and exploring with different influencers. While some brands seem to have mastered the art of influencer marketing, some brands are blindly following short term social media tactics that do not justify their investment or their brand philosophy.

Influencer marketing when used right can work wonders.  According to a research by Nielsen 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations.

Of late, being an influencer is equated with getting a few freebies and a handsome pay. Being an influencer is perceived to be the “coolest” thing. I’ve lost the number of times that people have asked me “Acha, tell me how do I become an influencer” or “Anu, how did you become an influencer yaar?” and my standard response to both these questions are:

  • Tweet/ Blog about topics you love the most and be consistent. In a few months, you’ll have a good followership
  • I did not “plan” to become an influencer. I consistently tweet my opinions and blog  about things I love and am passionate about

Influencer marketing has grown over the last few years and so has the myths surrounding it- misconceptions that agencies and influencers have regarding each other! This blog post is my humble attempt to debunk at least a few of them.

Agency Myths

Every agency has a unique way of working with influencers. Some know how to work with influencers and are hence  organised. Some are uncoordinated and have unrealistic expectations from influencers.  They need to be enlightened about the wrongs they have been committing!

MYTH: If someone has X number of followers, he/she is an influencer

Image Courtesy: kissmetrics.com

Wrong! Influence is no way measured or analysed solely by the number of followers a person has. Reach is an important parameter but category relevance and resonance to the audience are also to be considered. For example associating with a food blogger who reviews restaurants for a furniture brand or a personal blogger who has never done any styling post to review a range of newly launched line of apparel! The influencer has a steady follower base for a reason – their followers are interested in knowing more about their area of expertise not something that blogger is not known for.

MYTH: If I am paying the influencer, they should tweet/blog anything that I want them to

Influencers
Image Courtesy: brandandmortar.com

Influencers are not newspaper ad units that you can get anything published through them. The brand chose to associate with them for what they write and believe in. Their inputs matter. While influencers help influence their audience- they are not to be treated like media units.

MYTH: Fake followers, so what?

Image Courtesy: tweetrocket.co
Image Courtesy: tweetrocket.co

When a brand associates with people with fake followers, the association is not only pointless, it’s an insult to other category experts. Any one who has fake followers has very low credibility and influence. It’s very easy to find out if a person has fake followers on their social media channels. Here are a few tips that are helpful:

  • On twitter, check for their tweets, following and followers count. Generally, the tweets:follower ratio is 10:1. Following:Follower ratio can vary and is’t standard
  • Check for interactions on their social accounts. Are people interacting with them? Are they interacting with people? Does this person get good interaction on their tweets/instagram pictures?
  • If you see someone’s tweets getting an unusual high number of RTs in a short period of time, be cautious. They may be opting for fake RTs and interactions (yes they exist). e.g. it’s highly unlikely that a brand association tweet gets over 500 RTs in just a few minutes

Influencer Myths

Influencers have numerous misconceptions about agencies. Every agency has it’s own style of working. While the influencer may expect every agency to follow a standard working procedure, as a matter of fact- this isn’t practical. I’ve tried to clarify the most glaring myths here to help influencers understand the agency story.

MYTH: Agencies take their own time to get back to me with more details

Image Courtesy: Pinterest
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

When an agency approaches you for a campaign, it’s only after the idea and execution of the campaign has been decided on. This sometimes needs rework or alterations and more often such details cannot be shared. If an agency doesn’t get back, understand that they have their own reasons. Not because they are lazy.

MYTH: Agency delays my payment

Image Courtesy: forums.fuwanovel.net
Image Courtesy: forums.fuwanovel.net

No one likes to delay payments. Each agency has their own procedures that need to followed and this can take time. Most agencies do not clear payments until the client has cleared the payment. Every client has their own billing cycle- this can range from 30 to 90 days. In such scenarios, it will be helpful if the agency is transparent about the procedure. Delayed payments can be irritating but resorting to bullying the agency on social media is not a healthy practice.

MYTH: Agency didn’t approach me for their latest campaign. They don’t like me

Image Courtesy: comicvine.com
Image Courtesy: comicvine.com

If the agency hasn’t approached you for a particular campaign, there might be various reasons behind the decision. Campaign requirement, timelines, budgets being the primary ones. Not working with you for a particular campaign is no way an indication of your relationship with them.

Phew.. that’s lot of gyan on Influencer Marketing!

To conclude, I’d like to ask you if you have any other myths about influencer marketing that you’d like to clarify? I’d be happy to include them here. I will be writing more on Influencer Marketing in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Disclosure: I currently work as  Outreach Director at DigitasLBi. All opinions expressed in this post are solely mine.

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15 Comments

  1. Great post Anu. Unfortunately, I have seen that follower numbers are very important for certain agencies and brands, regardless of the TG for the product they want to showcase.

    1. Thanks Dollie. I agree some agencies run behind numbers. However, it has been my constant endeavor to enlighten colleagues in the industry and my clients that follower numbers is not the only criterion to select your influencer for your brand or campaign!

    1. Thanks Roxanne! Do let me know what clients have to say about this. I am curious to know their interpretations as well.

  2. Hi..I liked this piece; those myths did need to be broke..but I disagree with you on the importance of influencer marketing.. I think consumers are becoming smarter and the reach for branded tweets (even if they are contextual, interesting & smartly done) is getting lower and quality engagement let’s not even talk.
    @GwalaniVijay

    1. Hi Vijay, influencers can play different roles depending on the objective. While I always maintain marketers need to identify who is the right influencer for their campaign. Rather than a push strategy, marketers need to have a symbiotic approach.

  3. Hey Anu! Its me – your ex-colleague from FoxyMoron 🙂
    I’ve moved to Dubai and am myself taking baby steps towards blogging. Its been a year now since I started my blog and I guess the market here is all about exchange of products for a feature. Paying a blogger is very rare. While I have heard that companies ARE paying bloggers for features but I somehow haven’t been able to break the ice talking about Vitamin M. A few times when I’ve asked if they have budgets, I’ve mostly never heard back from them. Am I doing something wrong? Is there something I should be doing? Clearly we as bloggers invest a lot of time, effort and money to maintain our blogs – and sometimes it feels all too futile. Look forward to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hey Arwa! So good to hear from you 🙂

      I am not aware of how things are in Dubai. You should continue to work on your blog and pick and choose the brands that you associate with. With time and effort, you will build a reputation that brands will collaborate with you. Keep going girl and all the very best 🙂

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