How do the services of a local social media company compare to the effects of a brief partnership with a social media “influencer”?
The former represents a large-scale campaign that may generate sustained returns. The latter is a flash-in-the pan that rarely signifies actual collaboration but might generate a short, sharp boost to your social media following. There’s a potential benefit in utilizing both, and this blog has previously discussed how a local social media company can make influencer marketing part of a client’s campaign.
But that particular form of marketing comes with more caveats than a broader, more coordinated social media strategy. I’ve repeatedly warned that big promises are often red flags. And influencers are definitely known for dealing in promises that seem too good to be true. Having your product show up in someone else’s popular Instagram stream is probably not going to be a game-changer for your business. It might generate a few curious clicks, but unless your local social media company has thoroughly vetted the influencer, you’re unlikely to reach the right audience with the right message.
And increasingly, there’s another danger emerging from influencer marketing: the danger of backlash. On one hand, this isn’t typically directed against the company that is paying (or bartering) for an influencer’s “services.” But on the other hand, as more and more people express their frustrations with influencer marketing, there’s a growing risk of it coming back to bite the client or local social media company that uses it.
Recently, the proprietor of a Los Angeles food truck called CVT Soft Serve reached the front page of Reddit and earned a write-up in Time after he posted an image to his own Instagram featuring a sign that said “influencers pay double.” Joe Nicchi had reportedly been approached on numerous occasions with requests for free ice cream in exchange for “exposure” on social media.
The viral spread of his pictorial response highlights the number of people who can relate to his frustration, especially in a place like Los Angeles, where social media obsession is especially common. This doesn’t mean customers are going to abandon your company because it dared to pay off a thirsty influencer. But it does increase the odds that the attention you receive from such a person’s Instagram post will be partly or even mostly negative.
Again, this danger can probably be avoided if it’s clear that there’s broad overlap between your target audience and an influencer’s followers. But your best chance of getting it right comes from working through your local social media company, not from responding to random offers of exposure from people who have no credentials other than their follower count.