Influencer Marketing: Expectations Vs Reality

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“True influencer ROI goes way beyond social shares and output counts; it’s in the doors those influencers can open for you and the relationships they help you build.”- Shonali Burke
(President & CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting)

Influencer marketing has been on the rise for the past decade. Numerous influencers are making their mark on different social media platforms. Brands have been increasingly employing influencer marketing strategies in their marketing mix. However, the influencer marketing arena is still clouded with quite a few myths and uncanny expectations. What goes into influencer marketing? Is it worth investing in? What does it do? What does it look like? What should brands expect out of influencer marketing? This article shall shed light on all such questions and bring you to an understanding of the core of influencer marketing.

Rewinding back by a few years would show us the limitations of this arena as it was confined to celebrities and some bloggers at the topmost level. With time, however, this gap has bridged as more and more social media influencers come to the forefront. These strategies have proved to be tricky terrain to discuss, but we have got you covered! Read on to find out if influencer marketing is really worth the hype, what you can expect from influencer marketing for your brand, and what are some of the myths relating to the ever-increasing space of influencer marketing.

1. The Value Of Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing: Expectations Vs Reality

At the ground level, this type of marketing is basically a type of social media marketing that uses the power of endorsements from prominent faces who boast of a dedicated audience, and their audience trusts them to be an expert in their field. The main modus operandi is to target the trust factor of the audience, build up a brand and your range of prominent people who endorse your product and add value to your brand equity.

With the advent of social media, this market is growing rapidly. According to a study by Adweek, it is expected that influencer marketing will touch the $10 billion mark by the end of 2022. Every social media platform starting from Tiktok to Snapchat has its own demographic demarcation, leading to a different set of influencers. A study conducted by Mediakix at the end of 2018 showed that as many as 89% of consumers think that Influencer marketing yields a better ROI than other forms of marketing and 65% of marketers were willing to hike their budget allocation for this arena. However, brands view influencer marketing with a perception that is in stark contrast to what it actually is. Come let’s change our perception together.

2. Influencer Marketing: Expectations vs Reality

Influence That Matters, Not Popularity

Influencer Marketing: Expectations Vs Reality

“It is a Myth that Influencer Marketing is Marketing Based Only on Popularity, Mistaken for Influence.”- Neville Hobson
(Senior Business Consultant, IBM Social Consulting)

One of the major factors driving the selection of influencers is their popularity which is thought to be depicted by the number of followers. However, it’s not a very difficult task to buy followers and show an increase in the follower count. While it’s essential to increase your brand awareness, what’s the point of spreading awareness through an account of 1 million if the post does not yield enough engagement? So, it’s important to consider engagement as an important metric while choosing an influencer for your brand. Recently, an analysis by ZEFR showed that YouTube star Connor Franta has a whopping 66% more engagement on social media when compared to talk show host Jimmy Fallon despite the former having 12.5 m followers as compared to Fallon’s 38.4 m followers.

Influencer Marketing Is Expensive

The view that Influencer marketing is a costly endeavour is one of the biggest reasons why many brands shy away from it. Obviously, an association with a 1m account will have a hefty price tag attached. Cost is one of the biggest reasons brands hesitate to work with influencers. However, this notion also emerges from the fact that we go after followers. A micro-influencer will charge less, giving you a solid niche audience. So cost entirely depends on your planning and expectations. If you plan a one-off engagement, that will be different pricing, and if it’s a prolonged association, that would be a different process. So you need to choose that according to your budget.

Buying Influencers Has Become Habitual?

“The notion that you can buy influencers like the media is dangerous. It’s a relationship business, not real estate.”- Stephen Waddington
(Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum)

It’s important to understand one thing: influencer marketing is not advertising. Although most of the time, it is a paid approach to work with the influencers for their social media content, it’s not always the case. It is possible to create content across various platforms in collaboration with influencers without direct monetary compensation. Of course, paying ultimately comes down to the work they are doing for you; their time and effort need to be respected. However, if you invite someone to co-create content when he/she is a brand fan, it is more of a collaboration, and it’s beneficial to both parties involved.

Social Media Is Not The Ultimate Metric Always

It’s important to know your goals and objectives to measure your ROI. If your objective is to work on brand awareness, then social media volume may be your focus metric. But if your objectives are more aligned with leads, sales and revenue, you will have different metrics to work on. Digital content is measurable with unprecedented accuracy, and the best way to pull in your intended customers is to use the Attract, Engage and Convert Model by creating engaging content that ultimately inspires them to take action.

3. Does Influencer Marketing Replace Existing Marketing Strategies?

Influencer Marketing: Expectations Vs Reality

“Influencer marketing can and should fit into your existing marketing activities, complementing them and accentuating them.”- Joel Harrison
(Editor-in-chief, B2B Marketing)

Influencer marketing should never replace traditional marketing activities. While some see it as an isolated process, others might view it as a holistic approach to working in a multi-disciplined way across an organization, as depicted in the diagram below from Traackr.

Depending on the circumstances, influencer marketing can be both. However, with the increase in the need for an empathetic approach toward customers, more and more companies are opening up to this avenue of marketing to understand what inspires people to take action. And then use this knowledge to focus on a more empathetic approach to marketing.

4. Working Of Influencer Marketing: Expectations vs Reality

Influencer Marketing: Expectations Vs Reality

Engagement, Engagement & Engagement

MORE subscribers do not always equal high ROI. This is the mantra to have a successful influencer marketing campaign. One can have a large audience base, but there’s no use if the audience doesn’t interact or engage with the influencer’s content. The people who like, share, save or comment on their videos will be your pool of potential customers and are more likely to move down the influencer marketing funnel. So, next time while zeroing on your ambassador, make sure to have engagement as the deciding criteria.

Sponsored Content Puts Off Customers

As mentioned earlier, the biggest misconception people have is that influencers live on their monthly views. They can’t live on their views alone. They maintain these views to prepare a loyal audience base who can then view the brands they endorse and even turn into potential customers.

The influencers partner with brands and make interesting and authentic content to cater to the audience without being downright cringe-inducing sponsored ads. Most influencers’ audiences recognize that creators can’t live on views alone. They know the art of subtle influence and design their content accordingly. One of the most prominent examples of this at work is when influencers reveal their ambassadorships to followers who then no longer feel cheated that they are earning money at their expense, and it adds that raw vulnerability to them which then pulls in more audiences. 

Highest Followers = Maximum Results

Many marketers make this blunder of dividing influencers on only one basis- their followers. They believe that only influencers with the highest following will get their desired results. This is contrary to what happens in reality. Let us first understand who these micro-influencers are; the micro-influencers are anybody having above 75K followers on Instagram or above 50K views on YouTube, or above 100K monthly views on the blog.

Influencers having this small audience often are the perfect choice to establish brand awareness. Their main driving factor is their high engagement and increasing growing loyal audience which gives them the power to pick up potential customers and guide them down the sales funnel. However, it’s important to study their audiences and understand if they are motivated to move across the marketing funnel before going for an influence. If yes, then how? Now that we know where we’re at in the industry let’s examine how to create a successful influencer strategy.

5. Building An Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer Marketing: Expectations Vs Reality

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”- Seth Godin

People trust people more than they trust brands, and the key to a successful campaign is to leverage this trust. Come, let’s walk through the campaign together.

Set Objectives

Success begins with planning, and hence having a set of objectives for the campaign is the most important task as it will prepare you to work on the subsequent steps to estimate the effectiveness of your campaign. In this type of marketing, you are essentially using someone else’s developed audience to build a market for your own. You need to set certain objectives for the influencer to have an idea on creating something that would cater to your needs and the needs of their audience alike.

Before handing over the task, you need to make a thorough assessment of the influencer’s audience. This would then tell you if you can do what you intend to do, and then finally, you can communicate to the influencer about what you want from him/her.

Decide The Type Of Campaign

Now that you are done with the preliminary goal setting, it’s time to choose the type of campaign you want to invest in. You can either inspire your influencer to share your content or hire them to sell your product, or you can use a combination of these strategies to market your product. Some examples of influential marketing campaigns can be.

  • Influencer Control – In this type of marketing, the influencer takes over control of the brand’s social media pages for a certain period of time. 
  • Sponsorships – You pay the influencer to get your brand featured.
  • Shoutouts – Here, you give the influencer any free service or product, and they mention you in return.
  • Guest Posting – You are allowed to create something for the influencer’s social media pages.
  • Discount Codes – You provide a code unique to the influencer, and if they drive a sale where that code is used, the influencer receives a percentage of the sale.’
  • Creative Collaboration – This is where you collaborate with the influencer and create something that gets featured on your page and their page as well.

Select Your Audience Niche

Now that you know your goals, objectives, and campaign type you wish to run, it’s time to study your target audience. You need to know your audience inside out to understand which influencer would be the perfect choice to market your brand. Once you know this, now you can list them down as to who you want to connect to and prepare a buyer persona outlining the demographic and psychographic demarcation, which you can then use to search for your influencer.

Search For The Right Influencer

Here also, you will need to study and research the right influencer to understand if they are fit for your brand or not. Check all their social media handles thoroughly to find out their reputation or any controversy related to them and how they will be affecting your brand.

Remember, the influencer you would choose would represent your brand. Hence you need to find out if their persona goes along with your brand. Not only past records, but you also need to keep an eye on the types of issues they engage with and if that would affect the value of your brand adversely. Moreover, you need to check out the genuine outreach of your influencer, and if their followers are completely real, then you can go ahead with them. Make use of micro-influencers as they have a growing audience and mostly a consecrated niche to work on.

Your Delivery Requirements

Now that your influencer selection is done, it’s time to start the whole campaign management process, from strategizing the content to discussing the expectations of both parties involved. Establishing common ground before both the brand and the influencer start working is important. This would lead to both of them knowing what to expect from each other. It’s imperative to put a guideline for the platform and number of posts to be used and the influencer’s usage rights. 

Monitor The Content

Give the influencers a chance to express their creativity. However, once the content creation is done, it’s time to go through the content, edit it if necessary and then optimize it before going to the publishing route. 

Monitor The Results

Now that the campaign has reached its tail end, it’s time to gauge its effectiveness. Monitor the analytics to understand the performance of the content and optimize it if needed. It’s important to evaluate the ROI of the campaign and check for yardsticks to indicate progress or regress. At the end of it, make sure to note down the lessons you have learned from your audience; they have the ultimate word.


People trust the person behind the brand more than they trust the brand. Influencer marketing allows you to use your innate need to connect together and use that to build goodwill towards your brand. So, hop onto the bandwagon and see for yourself how the right influencer could charm the socks out of your audience and forge a meaningful relationship ahead.

Being a leading global influencer marketing agency, we, at Confluencr, have closely studied the influencer marketing industry and have helped a wide array of brands to craft content-driven influencer marketing campaigns. With a striking 15000+ influencer network and 500+ content-driven brand campaigns, we have worked for 200+ leading brands across India. We know great content lies at the heart of marketing, and so, we propose solutions that are sure to bring success to your campaigns. To know more about our services, reach out to us at [email protected].

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