Plummeting influence: Do influencers still give value to brands?

An influencer with 2 million followers couldn’t sell a paltry 36 t-shirts and Twitter could’nt let her be

Since the introduction in October 2010, Instagram has grown into a social media staple across the world, boosted further by its subsequent affiliation with Facebook. This platform along with others like Youtube, Twitter, and lately LinkedIn has given rise to a new form of marketing based on personality endorsement called Influencer marketing.

There is lack of consensus however on what an “influencer” is. Others define the Influencers as an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. While another a individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche. Each influencer serves as an inspiration for business and brands on how to become reputable through Instagram, becoming an example of self-sustenance.

However organizations are starting to question the value of this new generation Influencer marketing or form of social media marketing that involves endorsements from influencers, people and organizations who possess an expert level of knowledge and or social influence in the respective field. Apparently sponsored posts from influencers are driving less engagement!

Recently, Instagram announced that it wasconsidering removing “likes” leaving many to wonder if it would be the end for influencers. But, a new study suggests the downfall of influencers might already be happening. According to new research, engagement with influencer posts on Instagram is near an all-time low.

According to Mobile Marketer, the analytics firm InfluencerDB recently found that the rate for non-sponsored posts fell to just under 2 percent during the first quarter of 2019 from 4.5 percent three years earlier, while sponsored posts are now at just over 2 percent from 4 percent.

The study also found that the engagement rate for influencers across every industry category including beauty, fashion, food, and lifestyle have declined in the past year. InfluencerDB believes the decrease is due to the fact that people are being bombarded by sponsored posts, and understandably scrolling over them.

Figure these examples:

Recently in a confusing math problems that is baffling, Twitter users were deeply baffled after an influencer named @Arii with 2 million followers failed to sell the 36 T-shirts required for her to start a clothing line.

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Arii explained that no one had “kept their word” and ordered her shirts despite “getting such good feedback,” and that now “the company won’t be able to send orders to people who actually bought sh*t.” She also added “the people who I thought would support me really didn’t nor did they share any of my posts (all I asked for).”

This could show that the influencer bubble could be bursting becase it’s obviously surprising that someone with 2 million followers couldn’t sell 36 T-shirts.

The reign of influencers may soon be over as Gen Z  prefers people with an established talent or those who are taking direct action, not just selfies. Paul Greenwood, Head of Research & Insight at We Are Social, explains that this isn’t an unsubstantiated claim – We Are Social recently carried out research in the UK, taking an in-depth, qualitative look at 12 members of Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2002. We got to know how they behaved, what they thought about and what their core beliefs were. We found that for them, micro-influencers and super fans are who they want to see – people who bring real credibility to brand endorsements.

According to TechRasa, some brands like Unilever warned to stop working with non-transparent influencers and platforms. Some like Nike and Birchbox created internal influencer marketing teams managing their efforts in-house, and others like Lego and Oath create and maintain a close relationship with influencers and evaluate their content and personality alongside with technical measures. Amazon rolled an invite-only program for social media influencers into its huge, well-designed influencer marketing ecosystem.


Lack of regulation, formal guidelines, and scalable monitoring solutions in the influencer marketing space are seriously weakening it. Since 2017,  Federal Trade Commission guideline required influencers clearly and honestly disclose their relationships to brands. They have to tag sponsored posts as #ad, #sponsored, or #spon, however it’s still far from the ideal. Yet some big brands and influencers break such a simple ethical rule.

People are also trying to clean off the toxicity of social media and thus iInfluencer marketing needs to change. People demand honesty, transparency, and value. Influencers should remember that their ultimate responsibility is to build a kind of community -not a follower base- around a shared purpose, lifestyle, etc. If a brand also values that purpose and is eager to be included and support the community, the influencer as the community leader can clearly and transparently share the brand’s story.

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