Marketing experts have spilled a lot of ink writing cautionary tales about influencer marketing. According to these stories, marketers who embrace this newfangled fad are putting their brand’s reputation in the hands of amateurs, relinquishing total creative control, all for results that can’t even be measured. If you’re nodding your head in agreement right now, you’ve probably fallen for some of the common misconceptions about influencer marketing. But this oft-told story is actually false, and in this post we’ll debunk the six most persistent influencer marketing myths.
Influencer marketing myth #1: Why join the trend when the old techniques work
When you’ve worked in marketing for a while, you know the marketing techniques that work best for your brand. There’s no reason to jump on the bandwagon of the oversold influencer marketing trend when these traditional techniques make the grade. Or so the story goes.
Even if your current strategy is working, including influencer marketing in your marketing mix pays off. Sure, you could stick to your brand’s social media channels, on the theory that you can address your audience just as well without an influencer. However, when Kim Kardashian shows off her new Calvins on Instagram, her fans can’t get enough. But when they’re boosted on the official Calvin Klein Instagram channel, the same underwear doesn’t generate nearly as much hype. There’s a reason that more than half of U.S. marketers report that influencer marketing content outperforms brand-created content.
Influencer marketing myth #2: Working with media amateurs is unprofessional
Influencer marketing always comes with a loss of control. After all, you pass the power over your advertising content on to someone who is typically not a media expert. It’s true — apart from celebrity influencers, influencers aren’t advertising natives. But the widespread influencer marketing myth that spending your budget on a non-professional doesn’t pay off needs to be dispelled.
The crux of the matter is influencers have capabilities you lack, even though – or rather, because – they aren’t marketing professionals. Instead, influencers have spent their time testing and retesting what content works best for their particular audience. It’s only logical for brands to make use of this knowledge by hiring influencers to produce content for them. This is what the German supermarket chain Edeka does with the food bloggers behind the Instagram channel _foodstories_.
Influencer marketing myth #3: Fakes are unavoidable
Along with family, friends and online reviews, influencers rank among the most trusted sources when it comes to product recommendations. As the digital version of word-of-mouth advertising, the success of influencer marketing is mainly based on authenticity. However, given the booming black market for fake followers, marketers have to do their due diligence. A common misconception says that there’s no way of detecting fakes, but that influencer marketing myth can easily be debunked.
Though fraud plagues the industry, there’s no reason to miss out on the many benefits of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing platforms can easily help you trace the fake followers and bot-driven engagements that can ruin the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaigns. Based on target audience metrics such as follower quality, follower growth and like-follower-ratio, these platforms can determine whether an influencer’s followers are valuable or fake, inactive or unsuitable. And if you suspect something fishy, you should always ask.
Influencer marketing myth #4: Greater reach is always better
Nearly half of U.S. marketers consider finding the right influencer for collaborations one of the top challenges of influencer marketing. While reach is the most frequently-used metric when choosing an influencer to work with, it’s not always the best.
Let’s take Chiara Ferragni as an example: With almost 12 million Instagram followers, the influencer has a huge audience. But if your brand mainly operates in the U.S., her predominantly Italian followers probably aren’t part of your target audience. Beyond that, her role as a key opinion leader in the fashion industry especially attracts fashion lovers. Do you think her large audience would be interested in sponsored posts promoting cat food? It’s not about reach at any cost. It’s about finding the perfect match using several criteria, including location, gender, age and industry.
Influencer marketing myth #5: B2B brands can’t do influencer marketing on Instagram
Consumer brands were early adopters of influencer marketing, but the approach can boost almost every product or service. The assertion that influencer marketing is only beneficial for B2C brands is simply another influencer marketing myth. B2B companies may just take another path.
Influencers working for B2C brands mainly convince with their authenticity, sympathy and accessibility. In contrast, B2B companies primarily benefit from influencers who act as experts, persuading with experience and knowledge. Key opinion leaders are the way to success here. After all, customers tend to select products or services for work based on rational arguments. That’s why Adobe Photoshop works with professional photographers, who take over the Adobe Photoshop Instagram account to share photos edited with the software. Just as in the B2C world, influencer marketing is perceived as more trustworthy than traditional advertising here.
In the end, we are all media consumers and follow our favorite social media creators. If we stumble upon a great product for work after hours, we remember it just like any other product. And since B2B brands often sell products or services that are hard to visualize, an influencer can help bring these products to life.
Influencer marketing myth #6: You can’t measure the effectiveness of influencer marketing
Determining the effectiveness of influencer marketing is the industry’s biggest challenge. In fact, 80 percent of US marketers want to see the measurement of influencer marketing improved in the future, but this desire is just based on another influencer marketing myth. Influencer marketing is actually quite easy to measure — as long as you know what you’re looking for.
In the highly measurable world of digital media, marketers often fail to define their influencer marketing KPIs. That’s why the first step is to set metrics based on your influencer marketing goals such as reach, engagement, traffic or conversion. Then, you simply track these metrics using influencer marketing platforms and adjust your campaigns based on the results.
While influencer marketing as a field continues to mature, misconceptions about the industry persist. It’s time to bust these influencer marketing myths so that companies can develop expertise and integrate influencer marketing fully into their strategy without unfounded worries.