YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok have birthed a new breed of promoters known as influencers. In traditional marketing terms such a group used to be known as opinion leaders. Historically opinion leaders were people who were able to influence the purchase decisions of consumers due to them (the opinion leader) having a strong degree of knowledge in regards to a given product or service category. The former holds true when it comes to influencers, even if the latter does not. Knowledge of a product/service category has been replaced by a social media following that reads into the tens or hundreds thousands, if not millions. How they gained this following often had/has little or nothing to do with product/service knowledge. All that it takes is wit, charm, the right look, stunts, savvy editing skills, or some combination of the above.
These influencers are turning their fame into fortune at the expense of marketing budgets of small, medium, and large businesses alike. What they make depends upon their defined status. Influencer Marketing Hub segments them as follows:
- Nano-influencers: 1,000–10,000 followers
- Micro-influencers: 10,000–50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50,000–500,000 followers
- Macro-influencers: 500,000–1,000,000 followers
- Mega-influencers: 1,000,000+ followers
A recent report states that the average influencer earns between $30,000-$100,000 per annum through product promotion. That said, it is not uncommon for a single sponsored post from a Macro-to-Mega influencer to range between $5,000-50,000! Brands are throwing a ton of cash and swag at these social media darlings, but are these brands like the very same followers who are caught up in the hoopla with little hope of ROI?
As a business seeking innovative ways to attract more customers/clients you may have considered the influencer route. You may even have had a few reach out to you directly. Some are so bold as to quote their rates without prompt to do so. Others offer a partial trade (in lieu if all cash) to businesses that offer a product/service that they (the influencer) would like to tap for their own personal use. Hoteliers, health and wellness companies, and clothing brands (etc.) are frequently solicited by Nano to Mid-tier influencers. Their Instagram DMs typically read like “I’m reaching out with an opportunity for a partnership…” and so forth. You may be tempted to take the bait, but should you? Are influencers a bad influence on your marketing budget? There’s certainly a case against them, especially for SMBs that need to account for every marketing dollar spent. Let’s review.
Why SMBs Should Avoid Spending Their Budgets on Influencers and Invest in Proven Digital Marketing Instead
Influencer Promotions Are Fleeting
Recent data finds that the engagement rate per influencer post on Instagram is just 1.42%. This is roughly what the engagement rate will average for their promoted post about your product/service. While that number may be acceptable if the influencer is of Mega (i.e. celebrity) status, it’s not as impressive when you consider who your SMB may be considering. You must also recognize the fact that a promoted post only works for as long as it gets engagement. An Instagram Story only lasts 24-hours and then it’s gone, while Instagram and TikTok posts garner interest somewhere in the 24-72 hour range, maybe a week, as long as the influencer doesn’t drop another post (for themselves or another brand) after yours. Simply put, a paid promotion with an influencer is fleeting. Considering the average cost per promoted post it’s not financially sustainable to have an influencer regularly post on your behalf.
Carefully evaluate your marketing spend and consider investing in SEO as the sustainable alternative. Once you begin to rank and maintain the required content schedule, your business website will remain above-the-fold on Google Page one. Those Google results don’t change by the second as do influencer posts on the social feeds on your prospective customers/clients’ smartphones.
Influencer Results Are Less Trackable Compared to Other Digital Marketing Channels
Nano to Mid-tier influencers typically use personal accounts on Instagram. This means that they cannot add links in their posts on their personal profiles. While they may mention and showcase your brand, there will be no links to follow back to your website, which means that you cannot track traffic and subsequent conversions. In contrast, SEO, PPC, and email marketing offer in-depth analytics regarding traffic to your website’s conversion-centric landing pages.
What about influencers that have Business profiles? Instagram has made it clear that they want to separate businesses from influencers. However, they have introduced Creator profiles to include features and tools that specifically cater to influencers. Like with Business profiles, Creator profiles are allowed to add external links (to your site) via the following methods:
- Change the link in their own BIO.
- Add a link in their Direct Messages (DM) and send Instagram ad traffic to your site with an Instagram DM ad.
- Pay for a Sponsored Post from their own account.
But here’s the thing. These methods require more effort and investment from the influencer. Good luck getting them to go an extra mile for you, no matter how much you pay. In addition, they are averse to doing promoted posts to other businesses because it comes off as spam and dilutes credibility in the eyes of their followers. Influencers don’t mind giving your brand a proverbial “shout out” but they don’t want to be seen as a marketing machine that spams their followers with links to your business. The same is true for influencers on TikTok and YouTube. Without their commitment to doing so, you won’t have much to reference in the way of trackable traffic. Without those analytics, there is no way to know of you’re getting a justifiable return on investment.
Once again, you see why your money is better spent on proven online marketing platforms., including investment in your own social media efforts where you are not afraid to promote posts to product/service landing pages.
Your Brand is Tethered to Them Through the Good, and the Bad
Influencers are regular people. They have the same flaws and make the same mistakes as most everyone. As quickly as they rise they can fall. All that it takes is an off-the-cuff remark that offends a certain social/political/economic group and they’ll be “cancelled”. If your brand is tethered to them through a history of promoted posts your own image can suffer when the influencer gets caught up in some scandal. And as you know the web does not forget – the internet is written in ink, not pencil.
For every potential reward in working with an influencer there is an inherent risk of public relations backlash. The same can’t be said when your money is instead invested in stable online marketing channels.
If you have a limited marketing budget, sideline the influencers for the time being and invest in those who have influence over proven digital marketing channels. Strategic Consulting Group has expertise in delivering a trackable ROI through SEO, PPC, Email marketing and more. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.