Influencer Marketing: Is It Time to Bail on Instagram?

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The latest statistics from analytics firm, InfluencerDB have Instagram influencers in a flurry. The firm has discovered that the engagement rate for sponsored posts on the channel has dropped by 1.6% in the last few years. It’s a drop that’s prompting marketers to ask, “Is it time to bail on Instagram?”

The short answer is that influencer marketing on Instagram is still very much a useful tool. The long answer is that we have to rethink our approach. In this post, we’re going to look at what might have caused this decline. We’ll also examine whether or not it’s time to look for a new marketing channel.

How Bad is the Situation?

The stats peg the average engagement rate for sponsored posts at around 2.4%. Unsponsored posts are faring just as poorly with engagement dropping to 1.9%. Those aren’t great odds, even in the marketing world, and marketers are starting to take note.

What Caused the Decline?

The increasing popularity of the channel is at the heart of the decline. With more marketers getting onboard, sponsored posts are littering feeds. There is also a lot more content on the site now compared to only a few years ago which dilutes your reach even more.

That’s the simple answer, but, in reality, there’s more to it than that. The influencer industry, in general, has been losing momentum. Over the last two years, engagement averages have dropped by 60% even though there’s about 78% more content out there.

Why is the Industry Losing Momentum?

Why has the influencer industry taken such a knock recently? There are a few reasons.

Inauthentic Endorsements

We’re all adults here. We understand that not all of those endorsing products on Instagram use them regularly. We do expect them to have at least tried the product, though. With influencer marketing becoming such big business, there’s been a dramatic increase in “fake” endorsements.

Even some more popular social media content creators have been found promoting products that they know nothing about. That’s not as much of an issue if the product is tested and well-made. It becomes an issue when the product doesn’t live up to the claims the poster has made.

Moral Issues

It’s a lesson that brands doing business with social media starts need to be reminded of: Influencers are human as well. If they do something controversial, your brand image might be tarnished by association. The Logan Paul incident is a great example.

Paul faced a media firestorm after posting a video he took while in Japan. He was visiting a forest frequented by people intent on committing suicide and came across the body of a suicide victim.

He proceeded not only to post this footage on YouTube but also make joking and insensitive comments on the topic. By prioritizing ratings, Paul ultimately paid the price by losing sponsors. What brand would want to be associated with him after this sort of behavior?

Fake Followers and News

Not all influencers live the lifestyles that they claim to live. There has been a slew of incidents where Instagrammers have been caught using doctored stock photography to project a more glamorous lifestyle.

That’s not the only thing that they could be faking. It’s also possible to buy fake followers to inflate numbers. You can learn how to spot a fake by checking out our post, “How to Evaluate and Partner with Social Media Influencers.”

What’s the Solution?

Sponsored posts still outperform organic ones in terms of reach and engagement, so it’s not time to turn your back on Instagram as a marketing platform just yet. You can, however, adjust your strategy a bit. It’s no longer enough to look for the person with the largest following.

Smaller influencers with around 1 000 to 10 000 followers tend to have higher levels of engagement. As a result, they still offer your brand plenty of exposure but to a more curated audience. When chosen wisely, micro-influencers can be a far more lucrative pick, showing that in the game of influencer marketing, sometimes less can really be more.

Influencer Marketing: Is It Time to Bail on Instagram?

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