The one question you need to ask before entering any influencer partnership.
To say that influencer marketing is on the rise would be the understatement of the year. In 2016, the entire worldwide influencer market size (annual revenue) was a modest $1.7B USD, but much has changed since then. According to Statista, 2022 will see a market size of, wait for it, a whopping $16.4B USD! In only six years, the influencer marketing industry has grown almost ten-fold.
In order to understand how impressive this growth is, let's compare the total number of social network users worldwide during the same timeframe. In 2016, 2.28B people were using social media. In 2022, that number jumped to 4.59B. So, while brands have increased their spending on influencers by a factor of ten, their projected audience has barely doubled. This means that a disproportionately high amount of attention online has shifted to influencers, and advertisers know this to be true.
This is precisely the reason why brands and agencies continue to flock to influencers, because they are where the attention is.
So now, let’s dive into the mistake that brands and agencies alike continue to make on almost every campaign they run with influencers.
Having now been witness to approximately 300 influencer marketing campaigns since 2015 on Valeria’s social media, I’m surprised that we’ve never been asked:
“How would you describe your relationship with your audience?”
Agencies and brands want to know what they can’t see on the platforms, such as accounts reached per story frame on Instagram. That’s about it. They look at publicly available, top line metrics such as total number of followers, views per Reel (or TikTok), and number of comments and likes per post. Yes, these are important numbers and establish a certain baseline when determining if a particular influencer is worth what they’re charging, but I’m still genuinely surprised that the qualitative question about the relationship with their audience is never asked.
The entire point of influencer marketing is the human connection that only a person can provide. Engaging in influencer marketing and only taking into consideration how many eyeballs you can put a product in front of, defeats the purpose. If it’s just a matter of getting your product and services in front of people, Facebook, Instagram, search, and banners do a great job of delivering hyper-targeted ads to the masses. So why don’t advertisers seem to care about the influencers’ take on their emotional connection to their audience, since that is what ultimately creates trust?
So, if you’re a brand or an agency, I highly recommend asking the question and listening for the answer. You’ll be surprised by how many influencers ignore their audience and don’t engage with them at all. The value of an influencer, as it pertains to promoting your product or service, is not only about how many people see their content, but also the nature of the relationship between the influencer and the audience they serve. Yes, I said “serve”. If an influencer doesn’t understand that they, in fact, work for their audience, then the audience likely won’t be swayed to use a product or service that’s promoted or referred to them.
So be sure to start asking the influencer you’re considering partnering with about their relationship with their audience. If you get a deep emotional response from an influencer, gushing about how much they love their audience, you’re on the right path. If they look like a deer in headlights with no clue what the question even means, they likely don’t have the relationship needed to promote your offerings.
Banner Photo Credit: Daria Verenych @shotbydaria