Recently the owner of a small hotel in the Philippines called White Banana grew frustrated by the constant stream of requests he received from “wannabe influencers” (his term), each one trying to score a free vacation in return for Instagram posts.
He posted the following announcement:
“We are receiving many messages regarding collaborations with influencers, Instagram influencers. We kindly would like to announce that White Banana is not interested to “collaborate” with self-proclaimed “influencers.” And we would like to to suggest to try another way to eat, drink, or sleep for free. Or try to actually work.”
His funny rant touched a nerve, went viral, and sparked a firestorm discussion on the state of influencer marketing. The NYT featured an article a few days ago on the value of influence: “No, Your Instagram ‘Influence’ Is Not as Good as Cash.”
Influencer marketing is at an interesting crossroads. Marketers this year are predicted to spend 25% of their budgets on influencer marketing. They increasingly expect accountability on par with a typical media buy.
And yet influencer marketing faces a massive credibility problem. Last year, Unilever announced an effort to try to clean up influencer marketing, drawing attention to the widespread use of fake followers and bots. There has also been a shift to smaller classes of influencers, including micro-influencers and even nano-influencers (under 1,000 followers), which are inherently more difficult to regulate. Fyre Festival has come to epitomize a culture of influence marketing gone wrong.
When everyone can claim to be an influencer, what is the value of influence?
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve posted over the years:
“Fake Influence” August 2018
“Influencer Fatigue” May 2018
“Influencer Marketing” March 2018