Why Is Influencer Marketing So Lazy, And Who Is To Blame?

Written by Dave Nicoll: Head of Social.
· 4 minute read

We’ve all seen it at one point or another, some ‘influencer’ posting a half-arsed shot of them with a product they clearly don’t give two shits about with a caption that could only have been spouted by a three year old in need of a nap.

It’s lazy on the part of the influencer who is simply taking the money and running, but it’s also lazy on the part of the brand or digital agency who have paid them to talk about a brand or product they clearly have no affinity for.

Take the example below. For those of you who don’t know, this is Owen Farrell, one of the top rugby players in the world right now, and someone millions of rugby fans in England have huge respect for. Whilst a huge star on the pitch, Farrell clearly doesn’t give two hoots about off-field promotional activity, as showcased in this Beats By Dre post. The caption is lazy, the photo is pretty generic and generally it just feels a bit like something Owen had to get done rather than wanted to do (there’s also no tag indicating it is an ad).

Looking forward to a weeks training 🎧📱 @beatsbydre

A post shared by Owen Farrell (@owenfaz) on

Now compare this to the below post from body confidence advocate Iskra Lawrence to see influencer marketing done right. Iskra has a strong tie in with body positive swimwear brand Aerie who she is clearly proud to represent. Her caption for the image is detailed and well thought out, whilst she has taken a photo specifically for the post that shows how excited she is to be working with the National Eating Disorders Association.

This year @aerie and I are working with @neda again so I hope you will join in and love the swim your in by sharing your unretouched swim photos with #AerieREAL & @Aerie When you do $1 (up to $25K) will he donated the non profit @NEDA for every post to help save lives from EDs. After visiting Washington DC last year and speaking with Congress it made me even more aware just how much this mental illness that effects over 30million in the US alone – including those recovered like myself and many of my friends – needs greater funding for research, treatment, prevention and education. Thank you so much for all your support i love seeing all of you celebrating your real selves! … #AeriePartner #swimwear #beachlife #spring

A post shared by i s k r a (@iskra) on

Which of these two ‘influencers’ do you think actually resonates with their fans and is likely to hold genuine sway over their purchasing decisions?

Now there are two ways of looking at this. On the one hand, Farrell has clearly made little to no attempt to create something of interest for his fans to promote one of his sponsors. He could very easily of recorded a short video or at least put some effort into his caption, perhaps detailing his training regime for the week, or just anything frankly that’s more interesting than ‘looking forward to a weeks training’.

On the other hand, the guys at Beats By Dre could have looked at Farrell’s Instagram and seen that it is clearly an afterthought. Even posts where he hasn’t been sponsored don’t involve much effort. Clearly there is value in aligning with a player of Farrell’s stature for the brand, however could they not have activated this in a way better suited to the player, maybe recording some training content with him, rather than contracting him to generic social posts.

As we can see with the Iskra post, there is clearly plenty to be gained from influencer marketing, it just has to be done right. Brands and agencies need to really think about who they are working with and why. Is there a natural brand fit? Will this influencer go above and beyond? Will their fans even care?

Influencers also need to wake the hell up and realise that this kind of lazy work isn’t going to keep getting them paid. For someone like Owen Farrell, this isn’t such as issue as there will always be brand endorsements (plus his actual salary). But for those ‘influencers’ who make a living out of posting about brands and products on their feeds, they better thing long and hard about the value they deliver before the businesses they work with find somewhere else to invest their ad spend.