Like anything that develops rapidly and attracts such an extraordinary amount of attention, there is always an air of confusion surrounding what that thing really is. Influencer marketing has been no exception. At this point, the term “influencer marketing” has made its rounds, but, like a bad game of telephone, each agency describes the concept differently. As a result, fake influencers have nestled up closely to this loose definition and capitalized on the lack of clarity. To sort out the confusion, it’s important to define influencer marketing, consider its rapid growth, understand why it’s so successful, and recognize how top influencer marketing agencies are maintaining authenticity when there are thousands of fake content creators out there. This way, when your brand is ready to try out influencer marketing, you’ll be confident and prepared.
Influencer Marketing Defined
Influencer marketing combines third-party validation, testimonials, and subtle sponsored posts and/or ads to promote a brand’s products or services on social media by aligning with a person of influence. If you’re in need a comprehensive breakdown of influencer marketing read “ What is Social Influencer Marketing?” before diving into this piece. There is a reason the frequency of Google searches for “influencer marketing” has had a staggering 430% increase from January 2016 to January 2018, as this authentic marketing strategy equates to a stunning earned media value. In fact, Influencer Marketing Hub found that the average earned media value for influencer marketing in 2017 was $7.65 per $1.00 spent. Moreover, at ApexDrop, the average brand that works with us sees a staggering 52% increase in conversions.
Unfortunately, in any booming market, you’re going to have people taking advantage of the industry. In the digital marketing space, these people are referred to as fake influencers. Advertising has utilized testimonials and endorsements from influential people for nearly 300 years. In fact, according to Celebrity Endorsement – Through the Ages, celebrity endorsements began as far back as 1760, implemented originally by Josiah Wedgewood, a pottery and chinaware distributor. But here is the thing: not all of these endorsements are authentic. For instance, David Beckham has endorsed Pepsi, yet it’s doubtful he has ever hit the field after taking a pull from a two-liter.
Three Types of Fakers
Arguably, the biggest benefit of influencer marketing for both brands and consumers is that real influencers produce authentic content. Because of these truthful endorsements, potential customers trust brands more, which means that brands are forced to ensure quality products in order to receive these positive testimonials. However, there are three main culprits who are damaging the reputation of influencer marketing.
It should be noted that some celebrities really do believe in the products they support. However, the Kardashians shouldn’t be fooling anyone at this point. While their Instagram accounts would like you to believe otherwise, the plumping creams, eye treatments, and hair accouterments that show up in their photos probably aren’t actually used in their daily lives.
Then, there are fake influencers. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for content creators to artificially inflate their followers, likes, and even comments. For about 20 bucks, you can buy a thousand or so followers, and according to New York Magazine, for about $1.75 you can buy up to 200 likes from a vending machine in Russia. Insta-fakers are also getting good at manipulating stock photos to look like original content. Sites like Pexel, UnSplash, and Stockey offer beautiful license-free images that are great for decorating websites, but can often trick brands into believing an influencer is well-traveled, photogenic, and camera-savvy.
Many brands waste money on influencer marketing by trying to pay influencers to fake it. Paid endorsements eliminate what is arguably the best benefit to influencer marketing: trust. That’s why ApexDrop focuses on trade collaboration, wherein brands send gifts as opposed to cash to earn an influencer’s endorsement.
Micro-Influencers: Mavens to Up-and-Comers
Time and again, we’ve always said, “Bigger isn’t always better.” This is to say, celebrities with millions of followers are rarely the best option. We break our micro-influencers into three groups:
- Mavens: 100,000 + followers
- Prosumers: 20,000-100,000 followers
- Up-and-Comers: 5,000-20,000 followers
Interestingly, the larger an influencer’s audience, the less engagement they receive. Ultimately, it can be advantageous for even the biggest brands to think about downsizing their influencers’ reach.
Keeping it Authentic
At ApexDrop, we use a private network of the highest-quality and employ the most engaging micro-influencers in the industry. Moreover, we contextually match these rigorously vetted micro-influencers to ensure brands are reaching their target demographic. ApexDrop is one of the few influencer marketing agencies that verifies the offline presence of our influencers to not only determine legitimacy, but also to understand exactly why they’re so popular online and ensure it’s for a positive reason. All too often, brands align with influencers who are either a letdown, or worse: produce offensive content. For instance, TIME Magazine recently reported that Disney cut commercial ties with YouTube sensation, PewDiePie, over anti-semitic videos. This can be a PR nightmare for businesses. If you’re ready to try influencer marketing, be sure to pair with an agency that hand-picks their influencers. Too frequently, brands rely on massive influencer networks and databases to represent their products and services. This is financially burdensome, risky, and extremely time consuming. To learn how ApexDrop separates itself from other micro-influencer marketing agencies, click here to schedule a quick demo.
ApexDrop has helped thousands of authentic micro-influencers connect with quality brands through contextual product gifting (also known as trade collaborations). Imagine having an affordable and easy way to get your products featured by hundreds of influencers immediately on Instagram, but without all the extra work. ApexDrop offers an unparalleled service in campaign management from start to finish and can assure that clients receive quality posts and authenticity. For more information, schedule a call with an ApexDrop Influencer Specialist today www.apexdrop.com/contact.