social media marketing, brand management, influencer marketing, advertising, behavioral marketing, digital marketing

Marketing in the age of fill(t)ers

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing, most brand managers want a digital agency to send them a social media content calendar for approval before launching a campaign. And in such situations, brand managers usually check every detail – the position of the logo, the colors, the facial expression of the characters in the photo, etc…

How many brand managers do such a detailed analysis of posts they pay to influencers for brand promotion?

I guess not too many, and the possible reason is – authenticity.

Brands hire influencers because they often want to convey their authenticity to their own brand…

But have you ever wondered, how authentic are the influencers you want to hire to promote your brand?


Without any need for professional terminology and complicated explanations that could make us look smarter and more professional, we can reduce the definition of influencing to a single sentence – influencing is a Big Brother show in which every “tenant,” without a big TV production, reveals their intimacy.

There’s no great wisdom here, each one of you can be an influencer if you want to. I believe most of you who read this blog sleep in good hotels, eat delicious foods, and visit attractive locations. The difference between you and an influencer is that you don’t have the need to share every bit of your life with others, or you just don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.


social media marketing, brand management, influencer marketing, advertising, behavioral marketing, digital marketing

That Croatia doesn’t lag behind the world trends was shown by the recent situation in which a young influencer decided to publicly criticize a restaurant that refused to serve her a free lunch in exchange for promotion.

As always, we were divided into two camps:

1st Camp: influencers are lazy people who do nothing all day and get paid for it

2nd Camp: who is to blame if you didn’t make it in life so you’ don’t get paid as well as influencers do

Throughout this media tale, as we were focused on whether someone has the right to make money in a certain way, we again forgot about – authenticity

“Our brand must be authentic, ethical, and close to our target group”

You’ll often hear the sentence above as a part of a brief in campaign preparation. Now try to apply that brief to influencer marketing. How much authenticity do influencers that you entrust your brand to actually have to offer?

Let’s take a look at some facts…

01) not all influencers are Kyle Jenner or Cristiano Ronaldo

Recently, it was reported that one of the leading Croatian influencers has an income of around 150.000 euros a year. It is the income of a small digital agency or a micro-entrepreneur.

So most regional influencers aren’t multimillionaires as you’d think they are judging by their profiles.

Is that a problem? Very much so. In the age when we talk about returning to true values, your children get the message that today it’s enough to turn the camera on and you’ll live in luxury.

The real truth is that most influencers actually live an average life, without Bentleys and lavish mansions; they’re taking Uber or some taxi that sponsors them, they are tenants or they have a 30-year apartment loan, and when they don’t eat in restaurants or sleep in hotels that sponsor them, they’re ordinary people just like you. Some of them even openly show empty refrigerators, which would be nice (and definitely authentic) if their next post wasn’t a new expensive bag or shoes, because it’s clear to a careful observer that they can’t afford that lifestyle. Most of their fans, however, don’t notice these details, and create a wrong perception of both the influencer (as a successful person) and themselves (as an unsuccessful person).

02) the ideals of beauty are misplaced

There is almost no influencer who’s not using some of the filters, whether it’s their profile photos, or the stories they publish. Be it filters for pupil enlargement, “ironing” wrinkles, color saturation, each of them uses some of the filters.

Last year, Instagram announced that they’ll abolish all filters that have direct links to plastic surgery, but they didn’t announce the ban of other filters that create the so-called “Instagram Face” – an idealized version of yourself

Are filters a problem as well? Very much so. Especially if we’re talking about the younger generations, children who are becoming adults and are currently living in a world of their own insecurity and re-examination. The message they get from most influencers is not at all authentic. And to immediately anticipate the comments – no, the fact that some of the influencers talk openly about their intimacy, first sexual experience, menstruation, fears, doesn’t mean that they have solved all the problems of their audience. Especially not if the next post is already a story about luxury, hedonism and fillers.

A person who hides their true face with filters and fillers, and conveys a message in the likes of “be yourself,” gives the wrong message to young and insecure people, and this is more dangerous than any direct brand marketing that shows a clear goal to generate profit.

03) influencer profiles have become digital billboards

Every somewhat well-known influencer publishes content at least once a day, and when it comes to stories several times a day. Out of about 5 posts, half of them, if not more, are sponsored content. And it wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t show incredible enthusiasm for your brand in every post.

Sometimes several different influencers talk about the same brand on the same day, share their enthusiasm with fans, and a few days later they show the same enthusiasm for a completely different brand.

social media marketing, brand management, influencer marketing, advertising, behavioral marketing, digital marketing

Influencer marketing can certainly be effective. It’s desirable to be measurable, I have already written about it. It’s also desirable that influencer marketing is not your main channel of brand promotion.

But influencer marketing is definitely not authentic. If you want authenticity, your posts on your brand page have more credibility, without being deceitful. An influencer who loves your chocolate today, a bank tomorrow, and a supermarket the next day, is everything but authentic.

Yes, in the short term you’ll have an effect because most of the fans blindly follow their influencers, but not because they’re authentic, but because we are voyeurs, addicted to looking at other people’s lives, and in turn they’re addicted to other people’s attention.

In whichever way we put it, the fan-influencer relationship is a bit of a weird relationship that already fails on the psychology basics as a good marketing strategy for your brand.