Curation, Diversity

The Problem with Influencer Marketing by @NikkiElizDeMere

The-Problem-with-Influencer-Marketing-

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Influencer marketing works. How? Influencers are people who are highly active on social media and blogs. They can be brand advocates and niche promoters. Most importantly though, they are people with loud online voices who other people listen to.

Influencer marketing leverages the loud-speaker like qualities of this group to, essentially, create word-of-mouth buzz about a business or product online. But it’s not all about buzz – as Jay Baer says: “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”

When you align with an influencer, you’re entering into a mutually beneficial relationship. You amplify their voice even more by promoting their blog or social media presence; they talk about your company or product. Consumers trust recommendations from them, more than from you, because they’re third parties. They have enough distance from your company to maintain objectivity, and they have enough cache with their audiences to where their recommendations are trusted.

You don’t have to adopt an official influencer spokesperson – the relationship is usually not that formal. Rather, influencer marketing often takes the simple form of trading guest posts, or even “you retweet me, I retweet you.”

It’s surprisingly effective.

But when you look at influencer marketing from a perspective of diversity, it’s not working so well.

Of the “50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016,” published by Entrepreneur magazine, you’ll find that:

74% are male

86% are white

As far as non-race diversity factors go for this group, they’re anyone’s guess, but I would venture to say that even this remarkably diverse list (you should see some of the other ones), is lacking in a diversity of perspective.

So what happens when brands embrace the same group of influencers, whose voices are already loud and out there, who come from relatively privileged backgrounds?

We get a whole lot of the same.

In the influencer version of “the rich get richer,” the loud and privileged are even more amplified, to the point where they saturate the conversation and drown out voices from marginalized groups.

Pretty soon, everyone’s Twitter feed in the same niche looks identical, because they’re all re-tweeting the same influencers, over and over again. Is there an echo on here?

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A suggestion for a simple solution

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I would suggest that if you’re using influencer marketing, consider sharing content by marginalized people along with your regularly scheduled programming. Then, you’re not leaving them entirely out of the conversation. Stumped for where to begin? I’ve got you covered – try these:

@AlterConf – “An evening of critical culture discussions in tech and gaming. We’re moving the diversity conversation beyond 101. Coming to a city near you!”

@FundBetterTech – “Pledge $100/month to fund tech projects by and for marginalized people.”

@ModelViewMedia – “A magazine about tech + culture + diversity. We tweet articles and news.”

@TransH4CK – “Creating tech for the transgender community & visibility for trans technologists and entrepreneurs.”

Ensuring people who already have massive followings get their messages out there is fine, but it’s not going to add any new insights into the conversation. When you include the intelligent, savvy voices of people we don’t traditionally hear from, you allow the conversation to reach its full potential, creating a richer experience for everyone.

But honestly, just connect with people whose work you love. And if some happen to be influencers, and some don’t, that’s fine.

Curation as a power-tool

My style of Twitter using is curation. It’s what I do. It’s what I love. I’ve also found it to be a powerful tool for supporting, promoting, and amplifying marginalized influencers who deserve far more retweets than they get. For me, curation is a form of self-expression, which is why I share what I love – not what I think others will love.

Ultimately, diversity is so much more beautiful and interesting. Just check out some of the latest tweets by @Odyism, a fantasy illustrator who posted art for Black History Month on his feed.

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Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Why Aren’t You Co-Marketing? | Marketing Insider Group March 15, 2016 at 9:06 am

    […] co-marketing campaigns often lean heavily on Influencer Marketing, which I criticize in my article, The Problem With Influencer Marketing. While it may be beneficial to participate in a co-marketing campaign, make sure that your […]

  • Reply Jason Quey March 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    “So what happens when brands embrace the same group of influencers, whose voices are already loud and out there, who come from relatively privileged backgrounds? We get a whole lot of the same.”

    Great point Nichole, and have noticed myself (and sometimes guilty of it too).

    Regarding the stat, “74% are male and 86% are white,” any idea if that is a reflection of internet marketing overall?

  • Reply Todd March 17, 2016 at 2:36 am

    I was actually starting to look for “influencers” to give me their thoughts about teamwork in a startup/entrepreneurship culture for an article I am writing. I am trying to balance between ladies and men as much as possible.

    So, this is what I have been thinking about and I’m glad you brought it up Nichole!

  • Reply What is The Value of a Twitter Follower? April 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    […] Sure, they’ll catch like wildfire and are fun in moderation, but they’re not very useful for impressing future clients with your knowledge and wisdom. (Also, see my criticism of Influencer Marketing.) […]

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