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Why do Influencers want stuff for free?
Elle Darby is a blogger/influencer that recently came into the spotlight of worldwide news articles because she contacted a hotel's owner asking for a free room for a specified period in exchange for promotion. The hotel owner then made the request public, and everything went viral because if this.
Elle Darby got a lot of hate, but also support, and in essence, this controversy made her known a more popular. Same thing happened to the hotel she got into this dispute with, a lot of exposure, the hotel owner, got a lot of support from people agreeing that influencers and bloggers should actually get a real job instead of "beg" for free stuff in exchange of questionable "promotion" services.
What exactly are these "Influencers" we hear so much about lately?
Online Influencers had to start to take over the online marketing trends and campaigns for a few years now. In the last two years, real explosions of influencers started to flood online marketing campaigns as well as marketing trends.
I think it all started with the growing popularity of Instagram. At first big names with millions of followers started to promote various brand and products in their pictures, a lot of brands made a lot of money, and from there, everything exploded, and the marketing community went crazy over these "influencers".
To achieve influencer status you don't necessarily need to activate on Instagram, you can also have a following on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, and still, be labeled as an influencer. Anyone with the power to influence a group of people online for commercial purposes is basically an influencer, and that includes bloggers and people doing podcasts.
Where is this trend going?
Well, in the past the only online influencers were people with popular blogs, they were called bloggers and were actually highly tech savvy and knew a lot about online marketing.
2016 and 2017 saw the birth of a new type of influencers, the social media influencers. Who naturally develop a following on social media platforms until they grew large enough that brands started to take them into consideration in their online marketing campaigns.
I believe the last two years was the golden age of influencers. Even micro influencers (people with much smaller followings) got a piece of the action. Basically, they were flooded with gifts, money and products, all in the name of online marketing!
The main problem was: few delivered tangible results. Sure, there are a lot of success stories out there of brands making huge sales after running influencer-based marketing campaigns. But the problem is the end user started to notice all of this, the "commercial" type pictures and the push towards certain products.
Therefore the big influencers started to have lower conversion rates. This was when brands started to move to smaller influencers until they've reached nano influencers (people with 10k or fewer followers). I believe this trend will continue throwout 2018 which will probably be the peak year for influencers, especially smaller ones.
Are the influencers here to stay?
I don't think so. At least not in this form. I believe this is a marketing trend that will eventually fade away. Brands will flood everyone with ads, and by contaminating the nano influencers, users will move away to something else, something real and helpful, away from sponsored products shoved down their throats.
So why are influencers constantly asking for free stuff?
Coming back to our main question and subject I think the answer is self-evident if you've read the above story.
Because they've got used to it, the attention, the money, the free products, and services.
All of this reminds me of a South Park episode where Yelp reviewers where asking for free stuff and best tables just because they had the power to write a bad review. Eventually, restaurant owners stopped caring about Yelpers.
It is the same with influencers. They are so used to people making offers and accepting their offers that they began to use the "influencer card" everywhere. It was just a matter of time until brands and services started to get fed up with Influencers and their demands and offers. I believe the Elle Darby case is only the begging and this push against Influencers will continue.
Eventually, the market will settle, and a new breed of Influencers will survive. The ones that can hold their following while providing good ROI for brands they promote, keeping it real and not selling themselves to the highest bidder giving no thought about the audience and their needs.