This is a question that has been bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks now, after I was ‘influenced’ to buy a mascara and guess what? That’s right…two days later the same influencer was promoting a DIFFERENT mascara on her story. What about the one I had just ordered? It was supposed to be the best mascara ever created.

This influencer completely lost my trust, I felt tricked and gullible.

Is it really all about money for influencers? Will they say anything if they are paid? It does prove one thing though, influencing works and it is not the first time I have bought a product due to a recommendation from an influencer, but it could be the last.

How can influencing go wrong?

Terrie McEvoy and Tower Jewellers

Irish influencer and blogger Terrie McEvoy partnered with the company Tower Jewellers; she rigged a sponsored contest so that friends of hers won the prizes — two bracelets from Tower. After the backlash on social media, McEvoy and Tower Jewellers apologized, and McEvoy deleted her Facebook account.

Scott Disick and Bootea

Scott Disick’s first Instagram post on behalf of Bootea products was a huge flop. He accidentally copied and pasted the campaign instructions from the PR firm he was working with as part of the post. The post read: “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!”

Opps Scott, amateur move!

I simply, cannot leave out Fyre Festival, the fraudulent luxury music festival founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. The event was promoted on Instagram by social media influencers including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski, many of whom did not initially disclose they had been paid to do so. Tickets cost up to $100,000 (£75,000) and guests who booked were promised luxury accommodation and “the best in food, art, music and adventure” in the Bahamas. Instead they turned up to mattresses on rain-soaked floors, meals of cheese slices on bread and their luggage thrown into an unlit car park. Hit up the Netflix documentary if you have not already.

The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, up from as much as $8 billion in 2019, according to Business Insider. The industry has become so monetized, it’s possible there is an anti-influencer sentiment on the rise, many people are becoming less trusting of influencers and more careful of who they choose to follow due to the increase of dishonest practises. Instagram influencer engagement is nearing an all-time low as social media allows for more people to achieve fame and influencer status, meaning social media quickly has become oversaturated with influencers.

Tips for working with influencers

  • Influencers need to display authenticity, likability, and authority to create trust with followers. Brands need to be careful who they choose to represent them, the best practice would be partnering with influencers who have used and liked a product or service before even entering an endorsement deal, but at the very least, marketers should make sure they partner with influencers who have authentic connections to their brand.  
  • Some influencers have inflated followings, with very little engagement which is why it is great (and cheaper) for brands to work with micro influencers. The authenticity of common interests between a micro-influencer and their followers evokes a credibility that a large influencer cannot replicate.
  • Tik Tok made me buy it… Following in the footsteps of Instagram, Tik Tok is set to become a major player in the influencer space with 41% of users aged 16-24.

Will influencing last forever? I cannot see it slowing down anytime soon. But I can see it changing at a rapid pace, brands will have to choose meticulously each influencer they work with ensuring they are ethical, honest and create authentic content in order to be successful working with influencers.

Will I be influenced again? Probably…

Cliodhna Donnelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram

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