Part 3 | A dose of reality | Why Influencer Marketing Works

So here's the thing...as I read back over my two blog posts from last weekend and following conversations with PR's and brands, as well as a few bloggers, I kept coming back to the annoying realisation....that no matter what, Influencer Marketing, as much as so many of you tell me you dislike it, still works.

Human nature is that we are fascinated and nosy about what other people are getting up to. The internet and Instagram in particular, has driven a desire to be inspired, surprised, annoyed & outraged on a daily basis. Sometimes it makes us feel better about ourselves, other times it allows us to indulge in some self pity. What it all means is that even though you don't approve of what someone is doing online, you're likely to keep following and being influenced. We might not buy a product but it's in our head - almost without us knowing. It's why it is such an effective form of advertising.

The other observation I've made from listening to your feedback is that even when you unfollow, you can't resist still looking back at these accounts. People have told me that that do it with my account and I will put my hand up and say I do the same myself. Human nature is to want to be part of a group or a community and many of us followed certain accounts with this sense at some stage. We may have become disappointed by the progress of the account as it grew more popular and we might have unfollowed. But we still want to know what's going on at the party we left. Who wouldn't?

That's the reason these accounts don't really show much of a change in numbers even when they're called out for questionable brand work. They give us a daily opportunity to pull on our judgy pants and we don't want to give that up. It's the Daily Mail effect....you say hate it but you can't resist looking.

So unfortunately, we as consumers continue to feed the animal of influencer marketing....we might be shocked at an interior blogger promoting bananas but the majority of us don't do anything about it. Even though we swipe on past the first story, we probably think of that influencer next time we're buying bananas. I'm not suggesting we buy anything but the marketing has worked. It might have made you roll your eyes but the chances are, you're still following!

Accounts with 60k/80k/100k followers won't change because 400 people told me they don't like what influencer marketing has become. As long as a brand pays to have their product on these accounts, they will appear on these accounts and will will all have to suck it up. I will say that in fairness to many of these big accounts, there are good ones who do their best to mix this paid content in among non paid content in an effort to create a good balance. The thing is (and more than one of the bigger bloggers has told me this) they're making all the money they can until the influencer marketing bubble bursts and if that means promoting off-topic brands, so be it. If they lose 400 followers, they'll not lose sleep over it because it's not significant when your following is already so large. The money's in the bank and the food is on the table.

That in turn feeds smaller bloggers (me included) to think well, I might as well make my buck too. It's November and Christmas beckons. Work outside of the blog is light for me at the moment so if, for want of a better example, the banana people called and offered me £1000, would I take it? What's my thought process? I saw X number of the bigger bloggers do the same project. I'm flattered to be asked also. It's great money. My followers will forgive me one rubbish brand collaboration surely? I mean, ask yourself - what would you do?

So what's my advice to you as a consumer - and to myself as a consumer too?

Firstly, if it annoys you, STOP consuming this content. You have to unfollow and walk away without looking back. Seeing as bananas are providing a nice linkage throughout this blog post, I can tell you that I didn't actually know about the banana PR until I was told by so many of you. It begs the question, how much are we as consumers, via internet forums and online ranting, actually influencing each other and feeding the marketing machine further.

Secondly, call it out with the businesses concerned. Send them an email or a DM. Make them aware that you've been put off the brand by a campaign. I can't be a lone ranger on this one - I don't have enough clout. I need you (and indeed other bloggers) to come on board, to share and shout about it. Incidentally, no significant sized blogger has shared my posts to date. No-one wants to rock the boat while the money is coming in and the brands and PR companies are happy. They will take the eye rolls until the cash stops.

What's my conclusion? I honestly don't know...I'm still mulling so much of this over. What I do know is that here on my space, I will continue to find a good balance between earning a crust and creating original content and I will listen to my own advice and go right now and unfollow the accounts that aren't sitting right with me.

I'll finish on a positive - following on from the two blog posts, I have 3 meetings set up in the next month to talk to PR professionals locally about influencer marketing - I'll keep you posted!



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