Is Influencer Marketing The New Emperor's Clothes?

Are you famous with a million or more followers? If so, you could be in luck. The latest research suggests you could be getting GBP75k a post as an influencer. Let's just repeat that. A single post could earn more than double the national annual salary and put you on par with a Premier League footballer if you were paid at least once or twice a week. 

The latest research from Rakuten Marketing and Morar Consulting is interesting for two reasons -- the huge fees being paid and marketers' commitment to keep on paying.

As you might imagine, Facebook is the top channel at GBP75k for a post while YouTube is in second place at just a couple of thousand behind it, with Twitter in third and then Instagram before we have a picture on Snapchat, in fifth place, costing around GBP50k. I guess the channel you choose has more to do with your target audience -- and given the numbers on Facebook, it's the top channel.

As a final, "how much!" figure, before we move on, we have Campaign claiming that these numbers can be surpassed by a top celebrity influencer in fashion where fees of GBP160k a post are not unheard of. 

So suffice it to say that some well-known people are making huge amounts of money telling their followers they like brand x. It goes without saying that those brands need to make sure that influencers are being honest about the financial relationship with the brand -- otherwise the ASA, which has already warned some brands and influencers, is likely to embarrass them at a later stage if they need to be publicly rebuked.

Today, however, the huge takeaway is that more than four in five marketers have admitted they are not entirely sure how influencer compensation is worked out, and more than one in three -- at 38% -- can't tell whether it has had any impact on sales.

Yet three in four marketers expect to be spending more on influencer marketing in the year ahead. In fact, a little more than one in three expects spending on influencer marketing is going to go up more than 50%. 

So an industry that doesn't quite fully get what it's paying for -- and in which many are unsure if they are seeing a sales uplift -- are overwhelming agreed on one thing -- they're going to spend more.

I can imagine that in its top form, influencer marketing is persuasive -- particularly when so many young people want to be seen wearing the same clothes as their heroes and drinking the same drinks in similar bars to actors and models. If you're a gamer and you know a famous guy claims to get a cutting edge with a new controller, that has to be an item that's going on top of the Christmas list.

One huge question remains, however. Given the nature of social, how many marketers are swapping budget for vanity metrics? When social media is now beginning to realise that it needs to pay its way in more than likes on its own accounts, isn't this all sounding a little like the days of old when 'breaking Twitter' was a measure of success, rather than having to bring in an extra shift in the warehouse because orders just rocketed?

Surely there are deals that make good sense -- but the question still remains, how will marketers know? How will success be measured beyond likes and retweets? I don't know about you, but with figures this high, I have a feeling some social media madness has crossed over from brands' own pages to those who say they'll like them, for cash.

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