Jeremy Carson is an Associate Creative Director, working in the advertising and design industries for over 15 years.
In case you didn’t notice, Facebook added a new feature. Brands can pay to promote their influencer’s posts. A small change, but it could kill influencer marketing as we know it.
TL;DR - Brands pay influencers to post about the brand. It shows up organically in their followers’ feeds. By paying, brands can now make it show up in non-followers’ feeds. Because of past Facebook actions, this will kill organic influencer marketing on Instagram and Facebook.
Want to know how? Well, you need a little backstory...
Facebook Did This Before With Brands
Years ago, this same exact thing happened with brand pages’ posts. And it resulted in Facebook making billions of dollars in ad revenue.
Facebook’s ad machine exists because they blocked organic brand posts.
Short, uninteresting story: Facebook blocked organic posts by brands, requiring them to pay to show their posts in users’ feeds.
Longer, interesting story: Remember when brands fought to get Likes and Followers? If you followed them, every time they posted organically (the same way you posted that pic of your cat), it would appear in your feed.
Well, Facebook realized that meant free advertising. And Zucks needed to monetize. So, he said, “Now you can buy ads, and make your posts show up to people that don’t follow you!” Wait a sec, you mean brands no longer had to get followers first, just so they could show them ads? Sweet!
Now, the only way a user sees a brand’s post is through a paid ad.
Shortly after, Marky Mark said, “We found people don’t like seeing brand posts in their feeds, so we’re going to block them (aka ‘the algorithm is going to de-prioritize them’). Unless of course, it’s a paid ad...then it’s ok.” Oh, so now the only way a normal person can see a brand’s post is 1) if the brand pays for the ad, or 2) that person goes straight to the brand’s page (and pretty much nobody does that…).
Facebook Is Doing The Same To Influencers
After reading the above, you can see how the same is probably going to happen with influencers.
Right now, Facebook makes $ZERO off of any posts an influencer does in partnership with a brand. That’s not good for business.
Well, every time an influencer posts something in partnership with a brand, they use #ad, #sponsored, #partner, or another similar hashtag. Facebook could, and probably will, start saying, “We’ve found that users don’t want to see these posts, so the algorithm will start de-prioritizing them (aka blocking).” They did it before...
“But guess what? It’s ok, because you can already pay to make your posts appear in users’ feeds. And now they don’t even have to follow you! Isn’t that great?” Sounds familiar...
What That Means For Influencer Marketing
The whole point of using influencer marketing is to tap into their engaged, organic followers. Millions of followers means millions of impressions means they’re more valuable. Ten thousand followers, not so valuable. But if that audience becomes moot (since they may not see an #ad unless it’s paid) then how does that affect influencer marketing?
Bad for Big Influencers
Why would a brand spend so much money on an influencer with millions of followers if those followers won’t see the post organically? The brand could just pay to put the post in front of a lot of people, and work with a different influencer. The raw numbers mean nothing anymore.
Good for The Little Ones
Influencers with smaller audiences (in the 10k - 100k range) almost always have much more engaged audiences than those in the 500k - 1MM+ range. They have smaller numbers, but more passionate fans. But with money, that audience can be as big as anyone else. And they don’t have to pay the premium for a big-name influencer (As an added bonus, it’s more likely those more passionate fans will actually go to that influencer’s page, therefore seeing the post in the only way they could see it organically.)
We're going to see more quality with influencer audiences. Not just quantity.
Not Dead, But Not The Same
Ok, I lied. Influencer marketing is not going to die. But it’s not going to be the same at all. Sure, it's only on Facebook and Instagram right now. But Twitter isn't growing, which only leaves YouTube.
Gone are the days of organic audiences. Gone is the need for a massive influencer following. Say hello to the new order, where Facebook will be raking in even more insane amounts of ad revenue.
I really need to invest in Facebook stock...