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Why Are You Scared of Influencer Marketing

trendy boomer woman anxiously looking at her desktop computer

Many marketing and insights executives have found themselves questioning their Boomer bosses this past year, and for good reason. As influencer marketing has turned into a hot topic—and a bona fide marketing channel—buzzword-hungry execs have set their teams to work on Instagram to bring in business.

From what I’ve been hearing, many teams are frustrated by leadership that doesn’t know how to leverage social media for maximum organizational impact. Teams report that their C-suite “keeps hearing about this thing called Influencer marketing.” They know over half of brands use influencers, and that influencer marketing will be a $15 billion market by 2022, but they don’t have the clearest idea what it entails, yet they’ve tasked the team to generically implement it.

Marketing leaders know Millennials & Gen Z are taking over. Having lived through multiple recessions, these generations have a fundamental mistrust of traditional marketing. They look to peers for input and recommendations, particularly those that have a meaningful and reliably established connection to a category. In the span of a few months, TikTok went from a viral dance video destination to a legitimate advertising platform on the level of Facebook and Twitter. Will Clubhouse be next?

No doubt, social media is an ever-evolving environment, and it can be hard for leadership to keep up, or to know what platforms, trends, and practices will stick. The effect: their organization takes months to develop creative content that goes through multiple rounds of approval, which is totally stale by the time it reaches their audience.

These people are suffering from what we call “Influencerenza.” Over the past several years, scientists and researchers at Material have found a concerning rate of this disease among organizations. As someone at your organization with the ability to implement change, only you can make your company aware of, prevent, and cure Influencerenza.

Diagnosing fear of influencer marketing

The CDC defines Influencerenza as a disease caused by an uncontrolled lack of organizational understanding about, or fear of, properly leveraging influencers in its insights, communications, and marketing strategies for maximum impact.

Symptoms include wasting money on marketing activities with low or no impact, and a prevalence of outdated, bloated, or bureaucratic policies. Other symptoms include having a social media team that’s not permitted to try new things or having a CMO facing crippling quarterly earnings pressure.

How social analytics helps cure the fear of influencer marketing

Fortunately, there is a cure for this very real fear. Consider becoming vaccinated against Influencerenza with a new analytics-driven social media vaccine, using Material’s strategic and executional framework to identify and activate your top brand influencers for maximum impact.

Our treatment builds off years of experience in extracting insights from all forms of consumer data. Rather than relying on unproven remedies or trying a variety of over-the-counter guesses at influencer marketing, we treat Influencerenza by taking a data-driven approach. Through advanced networking analytics, we map the way consumers naturally and organically organize online. Evaluating these networks allows us to identify influencers who have a reliably established connection to, and trusted opinion among, a key audience. We treat the cause, not the symptoms.

Armed with these insights, you’re able to unleash your influencer marketing potential. Reviews, insider tips, and unboxings from experts who have lived every detail of a brand experience present consumers with an enticing trifecta:

  • The ability to project a “professional” image onto their own experience
  • The ability to cherry-pick informative highlights and tailor them to their own lives
  • The ability to avoid pitfalls by learning from others’ paths

Each day that passes means your existing marketing and communication strategies may be becoming less relevant and less effective.

What categories are ripe for influencer marketing?

While nearly all industries and categories can benefit from a well-executed influencer campaign, several categories are especially ripe. These are categories where purchase decisions impact the consumer’s social status, or otherwise affect their health or wellbeing. They are often one-time purchases, where a trusted recommendation can be invaluable.

  • Fashion & Beauty – Making the intimidating accessible and keeping pace with fast-evolving trends
  • Travel – Boiling endless possibilities down to digestible tidbits and avoiding derailing pitfalls
  • Culinary – Also making the intimidating accessible and keeping pace with fast-evolving trends
  • Toys – Avoiding tantrums by hearing verdicts straight from the kids
  • Healthcare – Solidarity with others with similar experiences and reassurance from industry leaders
  • Technology – Geeking out on the details one unboxing at a time

Next steps in overcoming your fear of influencer marketing

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. That means your organization must be willing to implement change. But don’t worry.  It’s good change. You’ll have to accept that that you have a real desire to increase revenue, but also that you’ve been wasting money on some of your dearest marketing programs.

You’ll have to be willing to adopt new strategies and ditch obsolete policies. On top of that, you’ll have to give your social media team more (strategically guided) freedom. And above all, you’ll have to empower your CMO to be more forward-thinking.

If you believe you are part of an organization that is suffering from Influencerenza, please continue following our blog series, or reach out to our team of experts for help.  


This article was co-authored by Stephen Lavender


About the Author

Sean, VP of Social Analytics, collaborates with his clients to develop innovative solutions to complex business problems through social and digital analytics. He’s a creative thinker who loves to look at the root of his clients’ challenges to come up out-of-the-box insights and opportunities. Sean began his research career at Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, studying the underlying emotions and motivations that drive human behavior. After six years in academia, Sean joined Material with a hunger for new challenges.

Profile Photo of Sean Carlos Fleming