Author Topic: Influencer marketing is bullshit  (Read 2689 times)

rcjordan

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Influencer marketing is bullshit
« on: November 02, 2018, 06:15:10 PM »

https://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2018/11/02/influencer-marketing-is-bullshit/

I don't know enough to agree or disagree.  IIRC, ad-buying members here haven't had much success with online influencers.

Mackin USA

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2018, 06:46:27 PM »
She mentions "Skin Care"

These folks can drive sales.

The trend NOW is for them to have an agency and ask for BIG BUCKS
Mr. Mackin

rcjordan

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2018, 07:00:10 PM »
>have an agency and ask for BIG BUCKS

On the -maybe- opposite end, EG is telling travel influencers to f### off, IIRC.

DrCool

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2018, 09:28:00 PM »
We get pitches from "influencers" all the time. In nearly every case it is very evident a good percentage of their followers are fake. We have never seen any results to justify any sort of investment in the influencer space. I know other merchants who swear by it but it doesn't work for us.

On the flip side though I have been able to score quite a bit of free meat, free cookware, and a free grill on my meat site. And I have been able to back that up with sales to the merchants that work with me. My follower numbers are pretty pathetic but I am still able to drive a couple grand in sales to the primary merchant I work with. If a merchant can find a very niche influencer I can see it working but just throwing money at anyone with large follower numbers is a waste.

ergophobe

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2018, 10:53:25 PM »
On the -maybe- opposite end, EG is telling travel influencers to f### off, IIRC.

Not exactly. We got pitched last-minute by two guys traveling together with over one million followers on YouTube and IG respectively who wanted free lodging on a day the hotel had 100 empty rooms. Their audience is not our demographic (lots of very young girls for their demo... not so much ours), but why not. The cost of cleaning a room that is otherwise empty is $35. They wanted 2 rooms for 2 nights. $140. Done! I was hanging out with them and one of them told me he had just gotten $30,000 for a 5-day gig with a car company. I think the car company overpaid, but I don't think it was $140 poorly spent. We gave them some meals too, but it was under $500 and, as an ancillary benefit, helps keep people employed during the dead season.

For people with whom we have that type of arrangement (free stay, free meals), most commonly, we go looking. So a regional tourism bureau has 6 visiting French journalists who write for top-shelf publications you've heard of if you know French media (Marie Claire, Figaro, one of the major regional dailies). We actively try to get in on that unless we literally don't have room. We put together a nice dinner where the executive chef shows up and schmoozes (and three of them told me upon tasting the food that they thought the chef was excellent - an important thing for the French!).

More typically... A couple of weeks ago  "blogger/influencer" with a really nice blog and tons of articles wanted some consideration. Similarweb *country* ranking is 7.7 million. This has got to be under 100 visits per month. No comments. 206 Twitter followers. OK, so she has 14K Instagram followers and gets a few hundred likes per photo, sometimes 1000. But I won't pay money (in cash or goods) for that.

90% of the ones who pitch you are bottom feeders.

I have a philosophy of hitchhiking, gleaned from thousands of miles of hitchhiking in the 1980s, at least a couple thousand of which when I had a beard, military surplus clothing and a big backpack.

The rule is simply this: the least effective, most dangerous way to hitchhike is to stand by the side of the road with your thumb out.

How do you hitchike? You talk to people at the breakfast bar. You approach people in the parking lot. The key principles are
 - you approach them rather than letting them approach you
 - you hitchhike from a location where they are already stopped, not speeding along.

What does this have to do with influencers? It's one of those metaphors I use a lot, as in "Are we standing by the side of the road with our thumbs out?"

A couple of days ago when I was ranting about the above mentioned "blogger/influencer" (this was our PR firm that described her this way), Theresa pointed out that getting "influencers" by waiting for them to approach you, is like hitchiking by standing by the side of the road with your thumb out.

So I do think "influencer" marketing can work, can be worth it. But you cannot do it by standing by the side of the road with your thumb out. You have to ID the people who speak to your customers and go find them. And yes, they will cost real money
« Last Edit: November 03, 2018, 04:20:10 AM by ergophobe »

ergophobe

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2018, 11:11:10 PM »
Sidenote - so many of these people have blogs with a Similarweb global ranking over 5,000,000. I look at the blog and they have nice themes, they post regular, long articles, they have excellent images.

These blogs would have been something to knock your socks off in 2003. I can't even imagine the hours that go into this. I'm talking 1500-2000 word posts with many images 2-4 times per week, plus a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (granted, heavily repurposed obviously).

Commonly you'll do a site: search and get 10,000 pages because they think more tags is better and treat a blog like it's Instagram. So I search for

site:example.com -inurl:tag -inurl:category -inurl:author

to get just the articles (or as near to it as I can) and still get 2,000 results.

It boggles my mind that you could put that much effort into a blog for multiple years and still be over 5,000,000 on the Similarweb global rank. It boggles my mind that you could put that effort in and be over 1,000,000

But everybody wants to be a travel writer and most of them don't even understand how to ask the basic questions
 - what does my audience want to read?
 - how would I reach them?

But there's this massive circle jerk going on where travel companies want links and,

 - For the hotel, it's a cheap link to say "we won't give you a room, but here are some free breakfast vouchers." In the down season when rooms are empty, it's a fairly cheap link to give a free room (again, our marginal cost for turning over a room is $35).
 - For the PR firm, it's always a win if they deliver an "influencer"
 - For the blogger, in most cases, they were already planning to be a paying customer. But now, at a minimum, their room gets a manager check, the front desk gets a notice with their photo and brief bio, and they likely get some welcome amenity that costs $12 but sells for $29.

So everyone wins except, of course, the readers who are reading their "reviews."

Because one thing is certain: if the hotel looks at their blog and sees that of the last 10 reviews, three were anything other than gushing, that person ain't gettin' the breakfast voucher and welcome amenity.

But over and over, I feel sadness when I evaluate these people. I see in these blogs thousands of hours of free labor in the service of industrial tourism, with little to no payoff and no engagement from the non-audience.

I can't help but think that these people would be so much happier if they just saved their time and money. The above-mentioned blogger from last week was trying to build an audience and was running a contest where to enter you simply had to follow her on Facebook or Instagram and like the contest announcement post. She's offering a $1000 Paypal payment.

I looked through and as best I can tell, she only had about 20 entrants. She has no audience, so there's nobody there to even see the post and enter her contest. It did not go viral.

It actually starts to depress me. I can't imagine working that hard for that little gain.

It's indicative of how I see Americans these days: they have a "golden ring" philosophy. Meaning, the will ride the merry-go-round forever because every time it comes around, they believe they are going to win the golden ring. And even though they missed the last 2000 times (2000 blog posts that did NOT go viral), they are sure that this next one? It's the golden ring.

As our dear president would say... "So sad."
« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 11:21:37 PM by ergophobe »

ergophobe

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2018, 11:22:32 PM »
Oh my... I guess I'm in a ranting mood. Sort of sad that someone would put all that energy into a forum post in hopes that THIS ONE will go viral. HHH

buckworks

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2018, 05:13:20 AM »
>> running a contest ... $1000 Paypal payment ... about 20 entrants.

I've seen many self-proclaimed gurus recommend contests as a way to gain attention and thus gain followers. Too bad they don't teach some math as part of the effort.

Some well-targeted PPC could have achieved a lot more ... but first one must learn how to target!


ukgimp

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2018, 08:17:19 AM »
Comps are a great way of getting a decent follower count fast. To look legit.

1. Buy fake followers
2. Run comp at same time with follow required
3. As bots fall off add new followers, genuine ones.


ergophobe

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2018, 02:31:04 AM »
Some well-targeted PPC could have achieved a lot more

The thing is, she's just schmoozing for discounts and, based on the blog, will almost certainly never take it to the next level. You need a lot of discounts to pay back that $1000.

She would achieve a lot more and have a lot more free time in her life by working one night a week bagging groceries and just paying full price.

buckworks

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2018, 03:28:47 AM »
She needs to learn:

It doesn't do much good to work hard if you're not also working smart!

martinibuster

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2018, 06:18:22 AM »
Nice posts, Tom.
Fascinating peek into what some people are doing.

Is it possible they're selling links to monetize? There's a lot of commerce in that right now.  Link buyers are heavy into Moz DA for pricing links (which of course is irrelevant). So if a blog achieves a decent DA then they're in business.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 06:21:28 AM by martinibuster »

ergophobe

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2018, 05:41:21 PM »
Is it possible they're selling links to monetize?

Most of these sites have terrible DA and many things suggest to me that 99% of those people, if asked about their DA, would struggle to name the public official in their district who brings cases on behalf of the state.

They are mostly trading links for goods, albeit without any direct contract/negotiation. It's just understood that if they get a few freebies, they will write a review and that review will serve as a link. And they are smart enough to know this. So they publish an unending series of positive, glowing reviews with links to the businesses reviewed (using that term loosely).

I think the best way to think of 99% of travel bloggers is that they are your free, volunteer PR team, but sadly, are not very good at it and any discerning reader sees right through the BS. Which is part of why they have so few readers. They are literally afraid to publish any bad reviews.

I do need to say, that my comments do NOT concern traditional media. We have had genuine travel journalists from top-shelf newspapers who are under strict rules to not accept anything for free. In some cases, they only tell you they were there once the review is written. A review in the NYT or LA Times is a real thing.

I think there are two things going on with the influencer/tourist destination circle jerk:

1. The "buyers" mostly judge blogs by looking at it and saying "wow, that looks nice" and then ask the blogger how many monthly visits, take the blogger's word for it and stop there. So ignorance on the part of the buyer. When I ask them whether they look at tools like Similarweb, SpyFu, SEMRush, AHREFs, Majestic etc, most of them have never heard of any of these tools. Most don't even do a site: search to see how many pages are sharing those pageviews every month.

2. Everyone wants to be a travel blogger. Some days it seems that there are as many travel blogs as there are travelers. And 90% of them are just doing it to pick up freebies or even just minor discounts. It's hard to see how their articles would be of interest to anyone. The very, very best of them read like in-flight magazine articles with titles like "Five Perfect Days in X." No Tim Cahill's here. So though there are some homerun travel blogs or Instagrammers who can move the needle, they are few and far between. For the most part, the amount of traffic you need to stand out as on of the better low-end bloggers is paltry. Sites with 10 writers and 10,000 posts will brag that they have 10,000 visitors a month.

Next time one of the egregious examples comes up, I'll share it on the inside so you can run your own tools and you'll see what I mean. I previously told of the woman who got angry at me because I wouldn't provide all the photos she wanted. Didn't I want her readers to have all the information they need? But the reason that I didn't supply said photos was because I had asked her to see her blog and she confessed that she did not have a domain name yet so it wasn't live. I had another self-described "blogger" pitch me on a free stay, and it turned out she hadn't launched her blog yet.

Some of these people are clueless beyond belief. In some cases (certainly the picture woman), I have reason to believe there is mild to not-so-mild mental illness at work.

So no, I don't think link selling is a significant factor here.

As I say, it strikes me that it is overwhelmingly a Golden Ring mentality. And, at the risk of offending, the travel bloggers overwhelmingly, and not surprisingly skew toward young and childless and stay-at-home moms, at least in my experience.

Some of them make it and do get the Golden Ring, of course. Most of them seem to fall into two often overlapping categories
1. Early to the platform. One person I know who basically makes a living off his Instagram "adventure" presence attributes his success to being on the platform early. He's a good photographer with a 4-year photography degree and years of professional experience, but he doesn't think he has what it would take to make if he started today.

2. They are not only good (see #1), but offer something truly a cut above others on the platform.

Combine #1 and #2 and you get people like Chris Burkard - 3.2 million IG followers for a very non-edgy Mormon who takes pictures outdoors, but damn good pictures - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Burkard

But then, Chris Burkard isn't asking for a place to stay in return for 5 posts to IG and a blog post.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 05:55:16 PM by ergophobe »

ergophobe

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Re: Influencer marketing is bullshit
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2018, 05:56:06 PM »
And yes, speaking of mental illness...  as you can tell by the massive spewing of words in this thread, these people are affecting my mental health!