A good and a bad influencer – what’s the difference?

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

I’ve recently found out that I’m a micro influencer…

Inspired by this fact, I decided to check the power of my “influencing”. Seeing as my “influencer” title is valid only on Linkedin, I tried to find a tool which would quantify in numbers how strong my influence actually is.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find it, but what I did find was a tool for measuring influence on Instagram, and I, very ambitiously, compared myself to – Kim Kardashian…

I know, you’ve seen how much she makes per post and you’ve spilt your coffee all over your laptop laughing because of it… In my defense, I rarely post on Instagram, it serves more as an open profile because I still keep my Facebook jealously to my friends…
But, take a look at my engagement rate – I crushed her :-)

Although this example is completely humorous by nature ( I don’t know why I’m even writing this disclaimer…), it poses a valid question – what is a good, and what is a bad influencer?


In the American market, there comes up a number of around 30% of people who claim they bought a product because of the recommendation of an influencer from the lifestyle segment. I don’t have the specific research which would back up this data so I cannot delve deeper into analysis

Personally, I’m very intrigued by influencer marketing; I’m following a couple of local influencers and regarding them, I like the way they build their personal branding, but I can’t figure out how good is their business model and how much do they really make, as well as the brands they work with?

These are some of my thoughts and open questions, in other words, this blog will not yield answers but will probably be material for discussion.

A research has shown that it’s not enough simply being an influencer (a person with a large base of followers) so brands would have a benefit of influencer marketing.

On a sample of 365 respondents, it was shown that the following characteristics are important regarding the “influence” of influencers on consumers’ habits:

01) authenticity – how much can you trust this influencer that his or hers recommendations are authentic and sincere

02) expertise – how much the influencer is an expert on what he is recommending (ie. you wouldn’t want me recommending how to prepare a meal…)

03) similarity to the audience – how much an influencer is “one of us”

04) attractiveness – yes, you cannot escape from aesthetics no matter how much you avoid idealising and stereotypes about “beauty”

If we look at it from a business standpoint, Kim Kardashian is an excellent influencer; paying half a million dollars for Kim to promote your brand is a small price. At the time, I did the math on how much a pharmaceutical brand that produces anti nausea pills during pregnancy sickness could have profited from Kim’s post; the rough numbers showed that they probably got their money back 12 times, if not more.

On the other hand, how many of our influencers can realistically make a profit for campaigns? Is it possible that the Pareto principle works for influencer marketing – 20% of influencers turn in 80% of the profit from influencer marketing? With FMCG and non luxury products, I would say that paying with the goods being advertised would surely make it wortwhile for a brand. Even if they pay an influencer, FMCG are something that the majority of of an influencer’s followers  can afford.

But, what about luxury products? Recently, an airline company flew a couple of influencers on a luxurious trip in business class. I would say that the seats on the plane alone had a value of about 30 000 € + accommodation + food. So, the amount could’ve gone up to 50 000 €. I know, you’ll say: “well it’s their plane, there’s no cost there”, but in reality there is – those seats were not sold to someone else. Could the service have been promoted better for that amount on social networks? How strong of a campaign can you create for 50 000 €?

I repeat, these are just my thoughts and question marks in my head that I put here on paper; I do not know if this was a good marketing strategy or a bad one.

Also, what if the majority of the audience of an influencer is of middle or lower purchasing power?

Although they will like the post by their favourite influencer, what are the odds that they can in fact afford that trip?


And while we’re on the topic of likes, what can we perceive as a good benchmark? Kaley Hart (Jumper Media) says the following;

“And once you get down to the finer details (a.k.a. the engagement rate you want to see from an influencer), you should be looking for a solid 2-3%. If you can find someone with a 4-6% engagement rate, sign them up right away.”

Here, I can speak from my own personal experience – the campaigns that we run on social networks for our clients achieve these results without any problems, and in most cases, they top them. The question is, how much does a single post from an influencer with that engagement rate cost, as opposed to a monthly calendar of a brand with the same engagement rate or higher?

If one post by an influencer costs as much as a brand’s monthly calendar then the influencer is in fact a very expensive copywriter…

As you can see, a lot of questions, not too many answers…

Let me at least try and give a personal, subjective conclusion on whether or not influencer marketing is worth it?

In my view – YES, if you specifically measure that “influence”

  • If you ‘re running a conversion campaign, for example an influencer is promoting your app, measure how many app installations where there because of the influencer’s post and compare that to how much an app install campaign with the same results on Facebook would cost you
  • If reach is important to you, calculate how much would it cost you to reach an audience the size of the follower base of your influencer (yes, I know, it’s not the same as targeting them in an ad and when the product is recommended by someone who they look up to as a role model, but you can always ponder on those values as well)
  • If brand awareness is what’s important to you, make a study of the market and check what are the main associations of your brand and if your influencer is among them (one of the stronger associations of Pepsi is Beyonce)
  • If interaction is important to you, check the engagement rate of your standard posts compared to the posts of the influencer and the cost per post

Personally, I think that true influencers should do all in their power to quantitatively present their strenght; this would surely increase the base of brands they work with.

The discussion is now open, in the meantime, you can follow my Instagram profile so that Kim Kardashian doesn’t surpass me in engagement as well as my Linkedin profile so that I can keep my status as a micro influencer :-)