By Pritika Matkar

Before going into why brands hesitate to collaborate with the influencers, let us first understand the ever-growing influencer marketing. This marketing gimmick has radically changed the way marketers and brand owners expand their businesses. Further, the social media or ‘Instagram famous’ celebrities become the face and voice of the brand and drive their audience base towards the ventures. These influencers share a brand or product-based content in the form of pictures, videos, short clips, write-ups, product reviews, etc. on their social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and the video-driven platforms like Hobo.Video. It helps them drive their followers to engage with the post and make a purchase via the links mentioned on these posts.

(Source Hobo.Video)

As per the market studies, it is a precise observation that the customers only buy things based on reviews from the people they trust. These influencers are the best medium for reaching a wide range of customers as they invest a lot of time in creating authentic content that helps them build a relationship of trust with their audience.

Brands see these influencers as a credible and effective way to reach the audience online. Whereas, customers see them as a source of authentic and reliable information. The authentic influencers do not over commercialize their posts; they keep the content conversational, leading the audience to believe that their ‘instafamous’ celebrity is genuinely recommending this product, and not just doing it for money.

How much are the brands investing globally?

Influencer marketing is the most rapidly expanding marketing technique in the world right now. It has seen a colossal investment in the last few years. The market would inflate further and see an investment of up to $10 billion by next year. Surveys and studies by Tapfluence show that this marketing tool has a promising future across the globe. Moreover, brands are ditching the traditional method of advertising and gradually adapting to this newfound and flourishing marketing technique.

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via BigCommerce

Although influencer marketing has a good ROI and a promising future, the current scenario is far from ideal as few brands have started to hesitate from sponsoring a collaboration with influencers.

Why is the hesitation?

Influencer marketing is becoming what social media was, a few years ago. Something that brands know they should do, but are not very sure about where to begin and how to execute. Due to this, there are many speculations in the market that the golden age of influencer marketing is over. While the conjecture is not entirely true; the brands in India are hesitating to launch collaboration campaigns for influencers.

Since 2019, many marketers and brands have started to hesitate when injecting their marketing budget into influencer marketing campaigns. They have come to a realization that the influencer engagement requires a balance of strategy and creativity, and usually needs an approach that is different from the traditional pitch of an advertisement.

Reasons for hesitation

Brands want to be sure that their investment is still efficient and valuable, and worth the growing price. There are good and valid reasons for brand hesitation while investing in influencers. With Hobo.Video, learn about the six main reasons behind a brand owner’s reluctance while investing in an influencer campaign-

1. The market is getting too expensive

When the cost of acquisition outpaces the customer lifetime value; investment doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Social media platforms have become a business that sucks the money out of the brand’s wallets. Macro influencers are charging money as high as $250k per post for Instagram. The price is still growing as the market sets to expand and cross $10 million.

To overcome this problem of over expenditure, brands have now started approaching and working closely with micro-influencers and nano-influencers who have fewer followers than macro-influencers, but a decent engagement rate and lower prices.

2. Overlooked importance of relationship building

Influencer marketing finds itself built on the foundation of trust and authenticity.

a) Trust of the audience in creators for posting authentic information.

b) The confidence of brands in influencers for leading a successful campaign;

c) And the reliance of influencers on brands for allowing them to endorse the business.

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via Etsy

More often than not, the influencers forget that as important it is to build a relationship of trust with their audience base, building and cultivating a trustworthy relationship with brands is imperative as well. The influencers tend to neglect this aspect, leading for brands to hesitate in trusting the creator for a big campaign or a long-term deal. This is why brands have started to shift their focus onto micro-influencers instead of approaching social media celebrities with millions of followers.

3. Ubiquitous endorsements may bore the audience

Influencer marketing has become a ‘must-do’ marketing technique for all newly emerging retail brands, especially VC-backed businesses. This results in the ubiquitous presence of influencers who are recommending everything, everywhere. This overwhelming ubiquity of influencers has rendered the audience with boredom and disinterest. Moreover, a study from Sprout Social inferred that the customers have stopped trusting those tricks now and that too many sponsored posts are professed as the most annoying action on the social media platforms. Hence, brands have started to look at sponsored post promotions as a sheer waste of money.

4. Brands have difficulty measuring the exact ROI

Almost 80% of marketers agree that measuring and improving return on investment is one of the biggest challenges while working with influencers. Metrics such as conversion rates, search volumes, brand awareness, media mentions, etc. are essential to evaluate the success and efficiency of an influencer marketing campaign. Not all of the stated metrics are easy to measure, nor they give a full picture of the ROI.

Influencer marketing strategy is based on practices such as content creation, digital ads, and community events. The effectiveness of one such component is hard to tell. Brands thus, reallocate the money that goes into this space and switch to traditional celebrity influence techniques as most of the businesses don’t want to invest in the concept where they are not fully aware of how to measure the success.

5. Easy manipulation of demographics and data by the influencers

One of the primary concerns for most brands and marketers is the fake likes and followers bought by the influencers to make their numbers look appealing. In 2019, these fake followers and forged data by influencers cost the brands $1.3 billion in marketing according to CHEQ.

For instance, Weibo- China’s biggest social media platform has a lot of zombie accounts controlled by hackers that sell likes, followers, comments and improve the engagement charts of the account. Such accounts exist on Instagram as well, and it becomes hard for marketers to differentiate between an authentic page and an account with fake engagement data. Brands are confused whether investing in influencers would make them reach a potential customer base or an army of zombie or ‘ghost’ accounts.

6. Growing inauthenticity of the influencers

With the recent wave of influencer marketing soaring high, being an influencer has become a profession for people and content creation is more of a job now than a hobby. The influencers sign contracts with multi-channel networks and get support in scoring a brand partnership, cross-promotion, or an ambassador contract. The influencers take up so many deals that somewhere along the line, authenticity is lost.

The growing number of inauthentic and promotional posts makes the audience think that the influencer is only here to make money, and they stop trusting the person. According to a survey by Splendid Communications, only 6% of the social media users think that influencers only promote the brands they truly believe in, and around 60% of users have admitted to having unfollowed an influencer who endorses way too many products of the same kind.

A sponsored media post makes the audience more sceptical towards the influencer which in turn, hurts the brand attitude and people’s perception of the brand. This inauthenticity of influencers is one of the significant reasons for brands to hesitate with the investment. If the influencers are failing to appear as credible, there is no use of getting them to endorse a product for any brand.

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via Pinterest

Let me put it in perspective

Very recently Emma Chamberlain, a famous YouTuber and Instagram celebrity had received a major backlash. This is due to her being a brand ambassador for a skincare brand. She uploaded a sponsored post, endorsing a new skincare brand, and her audience took a dig at her. The reason is she posted inauthentic content and lied about using the skincare products to treat her acne. The audience could catch the lie as Emma has previously created very similar content for two more skincare brands. In this content, she stated how she was dealing with acne problems and the products helped her get clear skin. Fans noted how inauthentic it was to work as a brand ambassador for three different skincare brands for the same issue of acne. Especially, while she also promoted the use of medicinal drug Accutane for acne treatment.

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via wingsandtea on Instagram

Such carelessness puts a big question on the credibility of the influencer. It makes brands lose interest in hosting such campaigns and investing money in influencer marketing.

All is not lost yet

Despite the claims that the golden era of influencer marketing is over, 2020 has seen a major investment. With the global pandemic and lockdown, the brands realized that the only, and most effective way to reach the potential customer base is through social media via the new and emerging content creators or influencers. Brands are willing to explore this arena and would be investing a lot in campaigns over the coming years.

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Brands are constantly changing the campaign strategies. They are coming up with new ways through which an influencer can collaborate with them. Apart from sponsored posts, an influencer can collaborate with a brand in ways such as hosting giveaways, product reviews, etc. To know more about types of collaboration, read Hobo.Video‘s Guide to the Types of Collaboration with Brands.

Follow the best practices as an influencer

When you are starting, or establishing yourself as an influencer, you are more likely to get confused: What brands to collaborate with? How to approach for collaboration with brands? What are the best practices for collaboration as a micro influencer? To ease the painstaking research process, Hobo.Video have put together a short guide. It will help you understand the ways to land a brand collaboration. Read The Influencer’s Guide to Land a Perfect Collaboration.

Stay authentic and keep creating!