Is celebrity influencer marketing dead?

Celebrity influencers are losing their power, fast. Brands should hand the microphone to their customers and employees, not Kendall Jenner or Arielle Charnas, according to a new report.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Video: Brands and social media: A good app and a compelling hashtag will go a long way

Over half of brands want extended brand reach and hope to achieve this through influencers. But are current influencer programs delivering the value they could be?

The 2018 Sprout Social index shows that almost half (46 percent) of marketers believe that using influencers is vital, but less than one in five (19 percent) actually have budget for it.

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We are almost twice as likely to consider a product recommended from a friend rather than an influencer or celebrity.

Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of consumers said they would be more likely to research a product or service that was recommended on social by a friend compared to one in three (36 percent) for influencers or celebrities.

Within the $2 billion Instagram market, Germany-based influencer marketing platform InfluencerDB estimates that one in four sponsored posts are being done by influencers with questionable audience growth.

Brands are spending up to $500 million a year on fraudulent influencers.

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The company documents the daily follower changes by creating a historical database of every influencer's follower count. Fake followers tend to come in batches, created within a certain timeframe, showing as bands across an influencers account growth.

Is celebrity influencer marketing dead ZDNet
(Image: InfluencerDB)

One example of a popular influencer, Natalie Off Duty, who has recently done campaigns with several major fashion brands, appears to have massive overnight follower changes.

These patterns can only be explained by bought followers. No wonder we no longer trust celebrity influencers.

Is celebrity influencer marketing dead ZDNet
(Image: InfluencerDB)

While using real people for brand awareness and engagement is still important, there seems to be a revolution happening in the world of celebrity influencers.

Consumers want brands to dump the photoshopped models from ads and replace them with authentic real men and women -- people like us.

Consumers want to see authentic, transparent posts from friends instead of influencers and celebrities.

People rarely consume celebrity influencer content across platforms -- between around 1 and 11 percent, according to the report. They tend to use social channels to learn about the brand and get inspired, not necessarily to purchase.

So, how do brands engage advocates? One way is to look inside the firewall. Employees are often brands' biggest fans and will deliver the brand message in a more cost efficient way.

Brands do use their own employees in ad campaigns -- like Blendtec's phenomenally successful Will It Blend? series of YouTube videos. According to the report, over 70 percent of brands marketers use their employees as influencers or advocates today, or want to in the future.

Read also: Are Instagram influencers cheating advertisers? New tool can identify who to avoid

Social is still very much a personal platform. People spend time on social, to interact with family and friends. Celebrity influencers, whilst interesting for a while, lose out to people we know.

Savvy brands, take note, and stop spending money on pseudo-celebrities and their fake followers.

Social media cannot be trusted without these features

Previous and related coverage:

How to tackle influencer fraud

Influencer marketing has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last few years with brands and social media celebrities working together. But gatecrashers who want a slice of the action are sneaking into the mix.

Almost one-quarter of budgets are wasted due on inauthentic influencer content

In the era of fake news, a research team has taken a dive into the world of influencer marketing - this is what it found.

Why brands can't thrive without a good influencer marketing campaign

Brands are building deeper relationships with influencers using instant social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

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