Influencer marketing only dies if brands fail to protect it

Influencer marketing only dies if brands fail to protect it

Influencer marketing has become a gold-rush with many companies trying to stake their claim. Which, given the value of the opportunity, makes sense. *By the end of 2019 it is predicted to become a $6.5 billion industry.

There’s volatility, hyperbole and a whole load of snake oil in the early stages of any market. Hopefully, with time, common sense will prevail.

In the meantime, as different types of agencies duke it out, we’re in danger of forgetting that at the heart of everything is a human being – whether they’re an influencer or a follower. And they are feeling increasingly pissed off because a space they love is being encroached on.

On 17 September 2019, MSL sponsored PR Week’s Breakfast Briefing – What does the future hold for influencer marketing? Sharing insights from research with 1,000 UK consumers and 100 UK influencers, MSL’s Head of Planning & Insight, Dominic Payling argued that treating influencers like a ‘channel’ versus a creator can have dangerous consequences for brands and influencers.

The results tell us that emotions are running high. For instance, when we asked consumers what they thought of influencers, the results were quite shocking. Some of the politer responses included “talentless wannabees for the easily impressionable” and “lazy, good-for-nothing snowflakes”. Others were too rude to publish.

So, who’s to blame? Well if you’re a brand or agency commissioning campaigns that amount to little more than product placement, or insist on putting advertising lines into the mouths of influencers, the answer is probably you.

The majority of consumers tell us they’re happy for their favourite social media personalities to engage in brand partnerships as it aids their discovery of products. (Some acknowledge they would make money from social media too if they could!)

This tallies with what influencers tell us: that having creative freedom and speaking from a place of passion are critical ingredients to a successful brand partnership. (These are also, key factors when they’re choosing which brands to work with.)

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What does this mean for all of us as communications professionals? Clearly that the future of influencer rests squarely in our hands. We get to choose. We can keep chipping away at the relationship between influencers and their audiences – and kill off a quickly-depreciating asset. Or we can remember that great influencer marketing, the stuff that adds value to audiences, depends on collaboration, creative freedom and, above all, quality content.

Powered by Fluency, MSL’s end-to-end influencer insight and management tool. Data shown is from our upcoming research report launching mid-October 2019. Please contact us if you’d like to be among the first to receive it. 


*The State of Influencer Marketing 2019: Benchmark Report – Influencer Hub



Edward Brittain

Social and Influencer Planner

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