No one asked about your skin care routine: The waning influence of mega-influencers

In light of growing consumer disillusionment and unimpressive ROI, marketers are shifting their social media focus towards more authentic, niche representatives.


October 23, 2019

In recent years, the voyeuristic landscape of social media has given rise to a select strata of self-branded Instagram personas touting their effortless fashion and seemingly bottomless travel budgets.

Though our society’s cultish fascination with influencers — from fitness gurus to meme masters — is baffling to many, anyone who commands the precious attention of the masses holds huge potential power in the eyes of advertisers. Companies will spend an estimated $8.5B worldwide this year on influencer marketing.

Exactly how much power are we talking?

Hard to say. It’s difficult to trace product sales directly back to specific campaigns — especially in the land of social media, where bots roam free and influencers often buy “likes.” By one estimate, this misleading engagement inflation will cost advertisers $1.3B globally this year.

But the jig may be up soon for these social superstars 

Some advertisers are frustrated by misleading engagement numbers and low ROI, and luxe brands are fed up with the “self-entitled” social elite. Meanwhile, engagement rates for influencer posts are declining as consumers grow skeptical about the credibility of social product plugs amid their saturated feeds.

The icing on the heavily filtered cake? FB and Instagram’s plans to hide “likes” delivers a huge blow to the core equity of mega-influencers. If a tree falls in the forest…

Out with the mass market, in with the niche 

In response to consumer demands for authentic brands and bespoke content, some firms are crowdsourcing product content from real customers — fo’ free. 

We’re also seeing a rise in consultancies offering to match brands with relevant and trusted nano- and micro-influencers (with a few hundred/thousand followers) for more effective targeting. They could very well be onto something; these mighty mice of the social realm are generally viewed as more credible, not to mention much cheaper. 

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