Could the continual demand for content, increasingly high expectations from consumers and an underlying need for authenticity leave influencer marketing withered?

  • On-screen, the life of an influencer can look lavish, but it can also mean an uncertain income, performance vulnerability and as a result, the continual need for sponsorship can become all-consuming.
  • Influencers have challenged the concept of ‘celebrity', forcing advertisers and agencies alike to rethink how and with whom they spend their marketing budget.
  • The ongoing demand for authentic content means the influencer space is becoming increasingly saturated - who is likely to experience influencer fatigue first, consumers, brands or influencers themselves?

“As influencer marketing moves forward...it’s going to be about fostering a greater sense of “trust and credibility” between brands and consumers.” Jasmine Sandler, a digital marketing expert in New York.

For brands:

In the past, it could take anything up to a year to find an influencer and then launch a campaign. Now, thanks to the variety of platforms influencers have at their disposal, campaign turn around is no longer an issue. Brands can always be connected with their audience through influencers and as a result, benefit from this greatly.

Furthermore, partnerships with celebrity influencers are fast becoming an indispensable part of a brand’s marketing strategy and with influencer marketing on track to reach $10 billion by next year, it is evident that when chosen correctly, influencers can help brands authentically connect with their target market while also reaching new demographics.

For users:

68% of Instagram’s regular users visit the platform specifically to interact with creators.

After some high-profile cases of influencer fraud, like the Fyre Festival scandal, the question of authenticity and credibility is brought into the mix. Added caution by brands is evident when trying to select the correct influencer talent to compliment the brand. These cases of influencer fraud have included artificially inflated reach, fabricating personal narratives and misleading their followers. This means, while influencer marketing is booming, the public has become more critical and wary when it comes to influencer content.

Another contributing factor of influencer fatigue from the public is influencers buying into fake followers. Recent studies have found cases where the influencers hired by major brands have follower bases that are estimated to be up to 70% fake. While this is an issue for brands, it also plays a huge part towards the disillusionment with influencers generally. The incentive for influencers to have huge followings and the highest possible number of likes, comments and shares has left the public unsure of who to trust and could cause permanent damage to the influencer-follower relationship.

Recent studies indicate that 47% of consumers are fatigued by repetitive influencer content.

On top of the demand for more authentic engagement, user fatigue with repetitive and predictable influencer content is also driving users away. Social media users are subjected to an endless stream of influencers polluting their feeds daily, whether it is a new teeth whitening product or a picturesque avocado on toast, the public has seen it time and time again.

The drive behind this influencer fatigue mainly stems from the way consumers interact with brands now that the age of the passive audience is over. Consumers are now more actively engaging with each other and brands while searching for authentic, unique, and valuable content from which they can form their communities based on shared interests and beliefs. If influencer marketing is not able to provide this, consumers will tire and switch off.

For influencers:

“As a result of Instagram’s ‘like ban’, likes have fallen 3% to 15% for influencers with 5,000 to 20,000 followers.” (HypeAuditor)

A PR agency in Australia - where the trial removing public likes has come into effect - has stopped using influencers completely. Their reasoning behind this was because they believe influencers could provide false or misleading metrics about their online reach.

“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health.” Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO.

Following this, the ‘like ban’ plans on extending its trial to the US this week, and while this may change the mechanics of how influence is measured, it should not affect influence itself. However, it will test the content influencers are providing their audiences and whether or not it will stand the test of time against their scrutinising eye.

Nevertheless, despite some concern regarding influencer marketing, on the whole, brands are still willing to invest in influencers due to their ability to reach certain demographics brands would otherwise have difficulty authentically reaching. 

The increase in demand for content continues to rise, resulting in increased competition for influencers, but also a higher standard as they fight for attention. As a result, the market has been left oversaturated and could leave influencers questioning if all this is worth it?

Influencers are much more than users who simply advertise a product or service on their social channels. They are content creators, photographers, advertisers, publishers, video editors and so much more. When the skills demanded of them are so great, the increased competition and scrutiny from brands and the public can affect their desire to remain in this industry. Will influencers be the first to fall of fatigue from an occupation that suffers endless inspection and pessimism?

Regardless of how ‘on trend’ or ‘in the moment’ influencer marketing may be in the industry, brands must not forget their unique story and the value of authenticity. This is what consumers will resonate with most and it is crucial to remember that influencers are not always necessary to tell or promote this story.

If it is found that influencers will benefit the way this story is told, then brands must take the time to find an influencer with the correct voice. Brands and influencers alike would do well to note that there is no shortcut to authenticity, and if both parties can respect this and their relationship, there is no reason why brands, influencers, or the public should suffer from influencer fatigue. Memorable brand connections are created when consumers experience valuable content that rings true and influencer marketing provides a beneficial method in achieving this when conducted authentically and uniquely. 

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