What Marketers Should Know About The Dark Side Of The Influencer Industry

Brand marketers must consider that, while the influencers are better at creating engaging content for today's consumer, their reach continues to decrease, and brands now have to pay both the content creators and the platforms in order to boost and amplify the content to actually reach the intended consumer, which means additional dollars allocated. Brands are still not asking the right questions regarding analytics, causing a gap between value and worth. 

In what started as an opportunity to curate amazing, authentic experiences, we are beginning to see the ill effects of the explosive influencer marketing industry. For the influencers themselves, in order to stay at the top of this increasingly competitive space, they are turning to expensive equipment to shoot product they can't afford, and new technologies to edit their personal image, resulting in:

  • Nearly unrecognizable self-portraits
  • Serious issues, such as body dysmorphia
  • An existential questioning of self



The divide between the person behind the content and the edited public-facing image we see on social media is growing larger every day, leading to mental and physical detriments.

The market has shifted from a space for people to showcase their individuality to a quasi-high school environment, where the richer, cooler, and more attractive kids get all the perks. This is causing intense self-pressure, jealousy, and often times, hatred among contributors, which leads to content that reads as “thirsty for likes” rather than an authentic voice for the brands and advertisers that they promote.

Furthermore, with the saturation of the market and the ever-increasing competition to stay relevant and in the spotlight, influencers are turning to potentially harmful practices:

  • Influencers are buying followers and engagement or entering into inauthentic brand partnerships.
  • Both cases perpetuate a platform of content and conversation spawned from inorganic intentions.
  • Influencers who align with these brands long enough can begin to shift their personal opinions to more closely resemble their public image, further propelling a culture of inauthenticity. 

On top of all of this, influencer marketing has bred a generation of overnight Instagram-famous individuals who have forgone traditional learning and work experience in order to take advantage of this lucrative market. If, or rather, when the industry bursts, however, many of these quasi-celebrities lack other critical skillsets necessary for lifelong success. For those solely reliant on standard brand-funded postings, their earning potential becomes increasingly threatened when their “Insta-career” ends. For the most part, marketers should be seeking out talent with whom they envision partnering on a long-term basis after evaluating who is best suited for their brand.

Given the exorbitant fees that influencers are currently taking, there is an entire generation of young people who will face serious challenges if they ever need to transition from $10,000 per post to more standard pay structures at perhaps more conventional jobs. As a whole, the concept of money and worth is being blown out of proportion with the inflated rates brands are paying. Influencers again face a difficult reality if and when they may need to find more traditional “dollar amount per hours of work” structure. 

The question again becomes, what will all of these people do if and when the industry reaches a point of complete saturation and the market dries up? And what will the brands do?  

Due to the immense amount of self-pressure, competition in the market and inauthentic brand partnerships, among others, the talent pool is degrading and will soon face depletion. Barring a shift in thinking and return to authenticity, the influencer industry could be facing an extinction level event.

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