Beware of “Influencers”

Anyone else out there ready to call BS on "influencer marketing" in this country?


by Peter Coish

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I just saw yet another Canadian ad campaign built around influencers. Sigh. Anyone else out there ready to call BS on this marketing genre?

Fact is, there are very, very few Canadians on social who can call themselves truly influential – and by that, I mean able to sway the purchase decisions of a meaningful number of people. After 10 years of working in the fashion, food and travel space, I’ve come to realize that it’s crowded with amateurs who gin up their reach with the complicity of PR or (shudder) influencer marketing shops. Fact is, many of these influencers started their vanity projects with the goal of getting a free shirt or a comped weekend. These people may call themselves influencers, but ask them to produce their Google Analytics numbers and they either make excuses or head for the hills.

And that’s why I find this article so annoying. Brands sometimes pay “influencers” in this country with pairs of socks cause that’s what their influence is sometimes worth. That’s right, Self-Described-Queen-West-Fashionista-Cum-Blogger, you are most certainly not Jennifer Aniston, and that’s why you are being offered socks.

I find it interesting that the authors fail to say that material levels of reach and social engagement are also essential ingredients for success. For most major media buyers it’s not enough that influencers “share an abundance of information about their lives, their friends, their partners, their cats” on the web. And that’s why buyers show them the door.

It’s business, after all. Show me hard data to back up your “influence” and then we can talk.