Trust me, I'm an Influencer

So, this morning I decided to take advantage of an early start and catch up on some industry news from around the globe. I do this periodically. Not too much so to be bogged down with the same people spouting the same old, PR spun rhetoric and not too little so as not to know what is going on. I stick to a healthy balance for peace of mind and quite frankly, sanity preservation.

As ever, typing in ‘influencer marketing’ to my google search bar immediately thrust upon me all sorts of opinions that I found it difficult to know where to start. But, start I did. At this one. If you’re in this world of influence you will have seen it too. The UM one. The one that says only 4% of people trust what influencers say. Yeah that one! As ever, the cogs of PR machines in our great industry have been turning since this article was first published on May 9th and many responses have been written since. I read them too. So why not join the band wagon? Why not have mysay? Oh, go on then!

So, just in case you aren’t up to date with all the latest news I’ll summarise. UM, the rather large agency group have conducted a ‘global’ survey. They have ‘tracked’ 56,000 active internet users (is there any other kind?) across 81 countries in their 10th ‘Wave’ study. The study has delivered a set of results that don’t shine a particularly positive light upon our still, fledgling market. According to the study only 4% of people believe what influencers say. Wow! Shock horror! You can feel the ‘gen z’ (people born from the mid-90’s) indignation already can’t you? For many this news must have smarted a bit, and believe me, some of the responses I have read seem to prove this. The problem is, these sorts of studies and this kind of prognosis is going to become all the more frequent. Why? Because its true! Now, before you all start shouting ‘traitor’ at the tops of your newly broken voices let me explain.

If you have read any of my other articles you will have noticed I have beensaying for quite some time, two years in fact, that the influence market needs to sort out its attribution modelling. I haven’t just been saying this for the good of my health. It actually comes with experience of the digital industry over the last 20 years. I’ve seen how good attribution models change negative perceptions whilst also, get rid of the ‘hangers on’, the ‘wannabe’s’. The companies making all the noise but offering little in terms of success for the client. I have thought for some time the current model in influence marketing is flawed. Just as the original display networkmodel was flawed.

Why? Its simple. The current influence marketing model is just arbitrage. Normally a person/s or system/platform in the middle doing nothing more than buying something cheaper than what they sell it for. Of course, many of the platforms/agencies/individual traders have a tool that simplify the process. Great! I’m sure this works fora lot of people. For now. But with more and more research into this marketthe pressure will be on ‘work flow’ models very quickly (if not already) to produce something more. The fact is, there are far too many ‘influencers’ out there who aren’t very good at what they do. The snowflake generation (as I call them, old fart alert, I know) has spawned literally millions of them.

Desperate to be famous and desperate for attention. Unfortunately, not traits that lend themselves to advertisers and, certainly not, something advertisers will stick with over a period of time. Fad buy? Yes! Long term? Definitely no! The desperation by some to make a quick buck whilst being the biggest fish in their small pond has created a monster and unfortunately for unsuspecting advertisers this has created all the flaws that we now see. Fake followers, fraud and poor, uninspiring content that doesn’t convert.Now having read my last paragraph you are probably thinking wow; this guy really doesn’t like influence marketing, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

You see, over the past few years I have seen some amazing campaigns and worked with some truly inspirational talent. But I know that this is just not enough anymore. It is just too hard to judge with any certainty which talent is worth their money and who is not. Until we can prove this works, that the ‘influence’ created through campaigns does indeed ‘influence’, this market will always be seen as a risk to many. Therewill continue to be stories such as the UM one printed and, there will be marketing executives like Keith Weed publicly doubting the industry. The influence market started off, and still hasn’t really moved from, the top end of the marketing funnel. It has been a good tool to date in creating that initial engagement with a brand. Now the market must work out how we show that consumer moving down the funnel.

Here at The Cirqle we have a unique proposition, Mobile Wallet Qards. Not only can we see when a user is interested in a creator’s post, we can also track that user as they move down the funnel, re-target interested users based on time and location and also track sales. Yes, that’s right, I did say ‘track sales’! We can see when a user makes a purchase. The holy grail, right?

This has a twofold effect for our campaigns. 1, we can see, for the first time, the true effectiveness of individual creators and optimise towards the ones that actually produce results, not just likes/comments/engagement metrics and perhaps more importantly 2, provide true ROI for our clients. ‘Trust’ is a word I have heard an awful lot recently when I’ve listened to discussions around influence marketing. I know why. To date, this market has been a leap of faith for all concerned. It has been about influencer selection and nothing more. This is why ‘trust’ is so important in this model. No one can actually produce any results outlining the success or failure of a campaign in cold hard facts. Until now. If you want to learn more about measuring success and generating true ROI get in touch.