When anything explodes at the rate that influencer marketing has exploded, there will be chatter that it’s a bubble. And when a bubble gets too big, it pops (ahem, Bitcoin). But does this apply to influencer marketing? With Instagram’s current usership of over 800 million per month, the arena for influencer marketing is huge. With such a big audience, well-followed micro and macro influencers are making upwards of $1k per post for peddling anything from waist trainers to fidget spinners. Influencer marketing has become an entire industry that is being fueled by an underground economy between brands and social media figures. Is there an inevitable pop coming up, though?

The Numbers

Influencer marketing on Instagram alone is an industry worth $1 billion. Not only has there been a linear and continued growth since influencer marketing’s inception, over 94% of its users find it effective enough to use again. With participation from brands across all industries and influencers from around the world, this isn’t a fad that will disappear anytime soon. Social media marketing using influencers has proven itself to be a vital tool to growing your brand. This isn’t some fun social experiment anymore- it’s legit. If you need more proof, check out our article on 7 Influencer Marketing Stats You Should Know.

A study from eMarketer certainly sees no sign of a bubble. They found that 75% of brands across different industries plan on spending marketing dollars on influencers in 2018. A large majority of those who have employed influencers in their marketing strategies before also plan on upping their budget.

The Evolution

Though influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere, it will be redefined. As social networks evolve, so will the ways in which brands and influencers collaborate on them. We’ve already seen brands shifting from using celebrities to placing a stronger focus on micro/macro influencers. Campaigns have gone from being designed around the brand to being tailor-made to the influencer to emit an authentic and natural partnership.

In the future, we’ll see brands place more importance on the influencer’s ability to inspire action and engagement rather than how many followers they have. In other words, they’ll start prioritizing relevancy over reach.

A System at Risk

While the evidence shows that influencer marketing certainly isn’t a bubble, it is a system at risk. Unfortunately for those actually passionate about their craft, the charcoal-toothpaste, FlatTummy Tea peddlers are giving all influencers a bad name. In the eyes of many, being an influencer has become a kind of dirty job for people willing to sell their souls for a quick buck.

Many brands and influencers are facing the blowback of riding this marketing trend too aggressively. While the short run has influencers bathing in cash and brands reveling in spiked popularity, it’s also seeing deflated credibility for both parties in the long run. If they’re not more cautious, jumping into partnerships too quickly will result in a crashed ecosystem. Personally, if I scroll by one more person with those teeth whitening systems that make their mouth look like there’s a lightsaber in it, my eyes will roll out of my head. It’s just been done to death. And that is exactly the problem.

What started off as an authentic way to reach consumers is turning into something as staged as its marketing predecessor. If we’re not careful, influencer marketing will begin reverting back to the thing it replaced. While influencer marketing began as being very human and personal, it’s evolving into being transactional and, sometimes, deceptive.

The Cure

So how do we fix this? How do we not completely destroy the incredible, beautiful thing that is influencer marketing? Easy. Be honest. While this sounds much too simple, all people really want is the truth. The best influencers to work with are the ones that are overly truthful. If their feed reflects transparency and a genuine love for the products they’re pushing, it’ll show through. If they tried a product that sucked, they should say it sucked.

Going a step further, it’s important to be picky about who and how many partnerships they’re taking part in. If an influencer is constantly posting about how amazing their new coffee body scrub or hair growth pills are, they’re probably lying. And even if they’re not, they’ll tire out their followers and will start to get unfollowed.

The reason influencer marketing was successful in the first place is because it was a fresher, more unbiased voice than the brand themselves. Once influencers start to be seen as mini marketing agencies pushing every product that comes to their door, their followers will start to ignore them.

 

The bottom line in this bubble debate is that while influencer marketing is here to stay, we need to be weary of corrupting it. For now though, brands and influencers who are particular about who they partner with and remain transparent with their followers will continue to reap the rewards of this crazy industry.