What if you woke up one day and Instagram no longer existed? Would your brand survive? Would your ‘influencer’ status remain intact?

Chances are, people would forget you almost immediately.

Social media is an extremely powerful platform for brand exposure. A way to communicate with your audience and a way to sell your products. A huge amount of time, energy and money is being poured into Instagram as a core channel to reach customers. Many businesses even believe that all they need is Instagram to run a viable business (not a good strategy by the way).

But with everyone claiming and believing they are a ‘Social Influencer’ has the power of social media become diluted?

In 2017, 78% of businesses implemented influencer marketing campaigns totalling over $2b[1]. Interestingly, nearly half of these businesses preferred to work with ‘micro-influencers’ (those with between 10,000-100,000 followers).

If you are fortunate enough to have brands begging to pay you to promote their products, fair enough, but if you are trying to become an influencer, please stop.

Business Insider has released a list of top-earning Instagram influencers… Kylie Jenner makes $1.2m per post… per post! Like her or not, that is influencer status.

I can’t express how disingenuous it sounds when every other person on Instagram posts ‘inspiring’ pictures and quotes with 100 hashtags. It is very transparent that the only reason for this is to try and become someone that brands will want to work with. This needs to be who you are already, your real personality, your real motivations and desires. People (and brands) gravitate to authenticity, not thinly veiled attempts to become popular.

Brands beware

From a brand perspective, you need to be very careful who you are aligning yourself with. Remember that everything that individual posts, says or does is now a reflection of your brand. Can you really afford to put your reputation at risk for a self-proclaimed ‘influencer’? With 52% of businesses working with between 10-25 influencers at a time, the risks are exponential[2].

I find it interesting that 50% of brands chose to work with micro-influencers. The cynic in me would say that these brands aren’t very well established, and are trying to use Instagram as their primary vehicle for success. Likely their budgets and brand recognition are quite low, so they are using these lesser-known people out of necessity.

You need to understand why you are using an influencer and how it can benefit your business. If you are just doing it because everyone else is, then you need to re-think your strategy. In fact, 78% of brands that implemented an influencer strategy cited measuring their ROI as their biggest challenge[3]. If you can’t prove what the return is on implementing an influencer campaign, why are you doing it? Get off the bandwagon.

Not all that glitters is gold

If you truly are an influencer, chances are that you’ve become successful in some other way than just being popular on social media. Congratulations on being a member of this exclusive club.

The power is now in your hands to align yourself with brands that reflect your values. If you really are who you appear to be, then you should have no problem choosing who you want to work with, and potentially more importantly who you don’t want to work with.

Similar to how an influencer can tarnish a brand’s reputation, so can a brand’s reputation tarnish an influencer’s. You need to maintain your personal brand.

Don’t jump at every opportunity that presents itself.

Getting the perfect blend.

Social media’s power is unquestionable. Influencer power is less precise, but nonetheless important and potentially very valuable.

The key though, is to understand the role of social media and social influencers in your overall marketing strategy.

  • Social should be a part of your overall marketing strategy, not your only strategy
  • Within social, you should use a mix of platforms and post types
  • Within that mix, you should use influencers wisely, and only those who align with your brand
  • When using influencers, ensure you set objectives and metrics to analyse their benefit
  • Know your ROI (essential overall)

While it takes time to build a brand or to become an influencer, doing so strategically can ensure a lasting impact. Very few overnight successes stick around, and if you are only following a trend or a fad then you will eventually fade away.

Create a long-term strategy. Set objectives and milestones. Test, measure and refine.

Don’t become part of the reason why social media loses it’s power.

[1] https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/news-bites/the-evolution-of-influencer-marketing

[2] http://www.linqia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The-State-of-Influencer-Marketing-2017_Final-Report.pdf

[3] http://www.linqia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The-State-of-Influencer-Marketing-2017_Final-Report.pdf