• 67% of brand marketers believed that campaigns with Social Media Influencers helped them become visible to a targeted audience.
  • Some studies claim a 7.65X return in media value on each $ spent on social media Influencers.
  • In 2018, Instagram is expected to see over 25 Million brand-sponsored influencer posts -costing brands over $ 1.2 Billion.

These are staggering numbers by any yardstick, but the picture is not all rosy. Some of the biggest brands in the world are re-evaluating the basis of their relationships with social media influencers. Unilever has publicly denounced a vast cadre of Influencers for indulging in, what is essentially fraud, buying followers to project a wider reach and hence command a higher price. Other brands have asked for everything from more accountability from the Influencers they engage, to greater control over the other content the Influencer posts. Some sort of an inflection point seems to be arriving -and this is a good thing.

A lot of the initial frenzy around engaging Influencers fuelled Entropy in the form of un reasoned pursuit of numbers- “my brand must have more followers on social media than my competition”. Engagement on the social channels became an easy, and measurable, substitute for meaningful impact in the lives of the consumers. Instead of representing a signal, just a milestone, to validate the resonance of the activities of the brand, these numbers became an end in themselves. These brands got sucked into a race to the bottom- and the Influencers were equal parts collateral damage and equal parts weapon of mass-distraction in that ego war.

Hopefully, the current debate about the definition, role, and desired impact of Influencers will help bring some reform about in this system. It’s either that or be liable for “Branding under the influence.”


(This Perspective was originally published on July 27, 2018 by Shekhar Badve on LinkedIn)