9 Lies You’ve Been Told About Influencer Marketing

June 16, 2023

As influencer marketing continues to evolve, so do the myths.  Learn what’s new and what’s old in this article adapted from my recent podcast, “The Lies You’ve Been Told About Influencer Marketing.”

MYTH 1.  The ROI of influencer marketing is immediate.

Marketers obviously want a return on their influencer investment. Where many brands go wrong is by using measures that don’t align with the goals and/or timing of a campaign(s).

Campaigns can have different objectives (e.g., create the need, increase awareness, preference, engagement, sales, and/or content creation). All of these goals can contribute to increased sales in the long run–yet we see many marketers trying to measure the immediate impact on sales.

The impact on sales takes time. So a challenge for the industry is how to translate the metrics we have available to the future impact on sales.

Some of the short-term measures that we can access are reach, engagement, social mentions, and share of voice. I’d like to see the industry get to a point where we have predictive financial models to evaluate the future impact on sales.

But for now, a Year Over Year (YoY) measure of the impact on sales is more appropriate than the immediate impact on sales.


MYTH 2.  Influencer posts are the [only] output of your influencer marketing campaign.

I’m still surprised by the number of marketers that see influencer marketing as simply getting an influencer to create a post and expecting an immediate impact from the post.

Today, we recognize the post is only one part of the value and the beginning of the promotion. Since COVID, consumers are craving social proof in their shopping journeys.  Leveraging the influencer’s content (user-generated content) to strategically build social proof throughout the shopper’s journey is a newer practice.

Our clients see huge conversion rate increases when they add influencer-generated content to their ads, product detail pages, and emails. Today’s shoppers want to see content created by real users. This builds trust and helps provide more information to give shoppers the confidence to buy.


In addition to the posts and the content, you now have budding relationships with influential customers. This is priceless. Don’t treat this human being, the influencer, like a transaction.

Nurture your influencer relationships. Show appreciation for their support. How can you do that? By leaving a specific comment on the post. By sharing their post on your brand account for additional reach and community-building. Sharing influencer posts on your brand accounts is a great way to connect and stay relevant with your brand community. And it lightens the load of content creation for your social media team.

If you treat the influencer like a human, rather than a transaction, influencers will continue to buy your brand, recommend your brand, and even tag your brand in future posts. Build upon these relationships by choosing the best advocates for your brand for longer-term relationships.


MYTH 3.  Attribution models are accurate.

Influencer marketing campaigns can be difficult to attribute. You don’t know all the touchpoints for each sale. When you’re doing authentic influencer marketing and generating word-of-mouth recommendations without sales links, it’s hard to track.

But we also know word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing, despite being hard to track.


MYTH 4.  Sales is an important measure of quality.

If you don’t see an immediate uptick in sales, does that mean the campaign did not work?  Of course not.  Would you expect to see an immediate uptick in sales when you’ve done sampling campaigns?  How would you measure a sampling campaign?  Likely via purchase intent.


MYTH 5:  The look of an influencer is important.

Marketers place too much emphasis on chasing influencers who have a certain look. We believe the best influencers are the ones who are true fans of your brand and who want to advocate for your brand authentically. If an influencer is willing to receive your product gift–not a payment–and post about it, that is an authentic influencer. But how do you find influencers who love product gifting collabs?

The best way to measure the quality of an influencer’s post is engagement (i.e., Are the influencers’ followers engaging with their social media posts?)


MYTH 6.  The marketer knows the audience better than the influencer.

You are hiring influencers to speak to their followers–their audience–about your brand. These influencers have spent years testing content on their audience. They know what works to engage their audience. So give them creative freedom to craft the message in a way that they know their audience will engage. It’s okay to tell them what not to say (e.g., do not make certain claims or use offensive language). But don’t kill the authenticity by telling an influencer how to talk about your brand or what the creative should look like.


MYTH 7:  The influencer must be similar to your ideal target persona in order to be effective.

With our opt-in influencer agency model, we have a network of influencers who apply to represent our client brands for each new campaign. Typically, we will get an average of 500 influencers applying to work with each brand we represent. A big mistake marketers make is not wanting to work with influencers that are not their ideal customer profile (ICP). They want to select only influencers who match their ICP and this is a mistake.


MYTH 8:  The best influencers are the ones you (the marketer) reach out to.

The reality is the best influencers are the ones that reach out to your brand. These influencers are already customers or they have an affinity to your brand.  The power of these influencers is as a group. Individually, they do not have the reach of a celebrity, but they have more trust and higher engagement. So the way to increase the reach and impact is to work with them in groups as we do at ApexDrop. Groups of 100 or more micro-influencers have a total follower reach of more than one million with significantly higher engagement (3-4X) and trust.


MYTH 9:  Micro influencer outsourcing is for start-ups, not bigger companies.

We don’t recommend scaling micro-influencers for start-ups. Once you have revenue of at least $3 million per year, you can focus on the brand-building benefits associated with influencers. At ApexDrop, we work primarily with medium- and enterprise-sized brands that need content. You can do this work in-house. However, we can do it with our batch systems more efficiently, and let your marketers do the more strategic work.

Learn more from the full podcast, “The LIES You’ve Been Told About Influencer Marketing.”

About the Author

Zak Stahlsmith is the CEO and Founder of ApexDrop, established in 2015. With more than 500 clients and over 18,000 micro-influencers, ApexDrop continues to help consumer brands grow through authentic influencer promotions and content on Instagram and TikTok. For more of Zak’s content, follow him on LinkedIn. To learn more about ApexDrop, schedule-a-call.