If someone called themselves an influencer when you met them, would you be impressed OR would you roll your eyes? Probably the latter. Lately, we’ve begun to wonder, is the influencer era over? Not a chance. According to the numbers, influencer marketing is growing, with the industry set to be worth $15 billion by 2022 – up from as much as $8 billion this year.
But there’s definitely a shift in the air.
In recent years, we’ve seen just how toxic the influencer world can get. From social media mavens shilling bogus weight-loss teas to Kendall Jenner’s infamously ill-advised Pepsi commercial – and even targeted harassment campaigns like the one that resulted in a five-year prison sentence for a fitness influencer – the industry has certainly been showing its dark side of late.
The Pushback Against Mega-Influencers
Public perception has also changed, and people love to see mega-influencers get their comeuppance. Fyre Festival was a particularly explosive example of this – seemingly proving people’s suspicions that the world of social media influence is all staged and fake. Some of the biggest names in the biz were embarrassed in the scandal, garnering intense schadenfreude from those who witnessed the disaster unfold from afar.
It turns out people really don’t like being sold a lie. Take the weight-loss teas for instance. There’s been a huge backlash recently against social media influencers who push these types of products with misleading claims. As a direct result of the growing criticism, Instagram instituted a new policy last month restricting the visibility of content promoting certain weight-loss products and cosmetic procedures.
The change is a heavy blow to some major influencer partnerships – but also a reflection of how things are evolving.
An Evolution Toward Authenticity
It’s not just about surface appearances anymore. Social media users are shying away from the fakeness and the obsessively curated aesthetic that have been so prevalent among influencers thus far. Nowadays, authenticity is a big trend.
Enter the micro-influencer. With smaller numbers of followers – ideally, 10k to 100k – micro-influencers come across as more relatable and more “real,” with the ability to more personally engage with their audience. They often showcase a niche or have a specific talent, and offer a less polished (but more interesting) feed that helps them stand out from the crowd. They’re able to cultivate a sense of community. And when they speak, their followers listen.
The results are pretty staggering: micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings. It’s a powerful market to tap for advertisers… but requires thoughtful planning and execution, with a focus on remaining authentically aligned with the target audience. When done right, everyone wins!
For more on how to make the most of influencer marketing, check out our previous post here.