The hard-to-resist perks and necessary evils of the influencer marketing industry were top of mind at this week’s Glossy Summit in Miami. Following Fyre Festival’s influencer fail seen around the world, the flaws in banking big resources on a few personalities with big followings are starting to show.
We asked Summit attendees for their predictions around where influencer marketing is headed, if it’s a bubble that’s going to burst anytime soon and how they’re approaching the space with their marketing dollars. Naturally, the term “microinfluencer” was tossed around.
Jodie Fox, founder, Shoes of Prey
Influencers will always be important because the way we understand things quickly is through human reference. But the audiences and the influencers that are out there, it’s enormously fragmented now. When these platforms began, there were these really huge influencers that everyone would go after. We still have those, but there’s an incredible amount of microinfluencers and there’s something wonderful and authentic about them. It’s so challenging to predict human beings, but there’s a natural evolution to these things.
Simone Serwer, marketing partner, Eileen Fisher
It’s going to reach its saturation point, and so in its current iteration, it has to burst. I already see on the brand side that people are like “ugh.” Whether an influencer has a 10,000 following or a million, everything is tagged and nothing is organic anymore. At this point, especially with social, all of the influencers are starting to look alike. It’s gotten really diluted. Bloggers used to have a distinct point of view with their own look. I hope there’s a personal style revolt. Even with street style — everyone has to dress a certain way for the photographers to catch you. When did that happen?
Samina Virk, head of U.S., Vestiaire Collective
I’ve heard a lot about what’s been happening in influencer marketing, and that it’s not effective. It’s not as impactful as it was three years, ago but it’s still important when you’re identifying a trend and making a recommendation, that’s valuable. There’s a valuable on the microinfluencer side and the big influencer side. We launched in the U.S. and breaking it down by city and region and tapping the local communities of bloggers was really effective. Then the large influencers, like a Kim Kardashian, that really helps with awareness.
Joanna Lau, CEO, Jemma
I work with a lot of influencers with my brand, and — I think a lot of other people have experienced this, too — we haven’t seen a lot of return on investment. My main issue is that the industry is not regulated and influencers have nobody to say OK, you have to do this and that. Even if they sign a contract, they can run away tomorrow. That’s our biggest concern. The smaller influencers are a lot better to work with, more professional, than the bigger ones. The bigger ones think that they can get away with anything. When we work with smaller influencers, we see stuff coming back to us: more followers, email sign-ups, purchases.
Aaron Luo, CEO, Caraa
If you know how to use them, they’re very powerful. We go through a pretty anal screening process because we have to. I sit down with every single one of my influencers and screen all of them myself. I want them to be connected to the brand rather than just another brand coming in to pay them. If you treat them transactionally, they might bounce. Is the bubble going to burst? There’s a lot of noise out there — everyone is claiming to be important. The ones who aren’t doing it right will be weeded out. But it’s up to the brands to hold them accountable.