Influencer Marketing: The Big “Hype” of 2017 Is Looking Like a Con Job


The more I look into influencer marketing, the shadier it gets. The NY State Attorney General is now even investigating companies for influencer fraud and “bought” followers.

I’m also starting to wonder if the statistics that are bandied about on the effectiveness of influencers aren’t wildly overstated e.g.

  • 86% of marketers used influencer marketing in 2017
  • 92% of them found it useful.

Which brings us to the newest trend: bringing influencer marketing in-house. I can only assume it has a lot to do with trust. Among companies going this route: Nike.

I’m not 100% opposed to influencers but if it were my money, I would want to dig deep to make sure that the “influencer(s)” that I partner with are not just transactional hired guns who’ll do a rote few posts and then be off and running with my competitor the following week.

The biggest problem with using megastar influencers like the Kardashians or Jenners, who have become major “namebrands” themselves, is that their fans do not automatically buy what’s being “sponsored” if it feels even marginally off-brand.

Increasingly, I see influencer marketing as no more than today’s celebrity campaign, served up on digital platforms vs. yesterday’s TV or print. And just as some celebrities were phenomenal partners for their brands and others were duds, the same is true for influencers. Influencer marketing is NOT the holy grail.

That said, there are categories and niches where influencer marketing might be worth exploring. Finding the right influencer, however, is critical.

Read on below for guidelines on what to look for in influencer partners as well as two influencer experts who strike me as knowing what they’re talking about.


Here are 4 things I would look for in a potential influencer:

  • Subject matter expertise i.e. somebody so knowledgeable, I would want them as a consultant on my brand
  • Authentic involvement with my category and my brand
  • Content, orientation and tonality that is consistent with my brand message
  • Highly engaged, authentic followers


Here are two of the most impressive influencer experts I’ve run across. While there is obviously a lot of flimflam in this industry, these two (who I don’t know personally), strike me as trustworthy and experienced in this relatively new field.

Andreas Bersch, CEO of digital agency Brandpunkt

  • EXCELLENT, thoughtful interview on what goes into selecting the right influencer
  • Particularly oriented to sports

Tracey Manner, Partner & Vice President of Think PR.

  • She is an influencer wrangler for runway fashion shows
  • Impressed by her attention to detail, her level of expertise in influencer brand fit and her commitment to deliverables/ROI.

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