Influence vs. Popularity: how to avoid investing in the wrong kinds of influencers

Ana Archer

17 May 2018

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Influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon. Over the past few years we’ve become used to seeing brands collaborate with celebrities and online influencers, leveraging their popularity with consumers to bolster brand advocacy and increase product sales. However, recently this approach has not proved quite as successful. It’s not clear whether these collaborations are really increasing ROI, or helping to build relevant and meaningful relationships with consumers. The problem is, brands don’t really know what to do with influencers once they’re presented with the opportunity to work with one. Consumers are exposed to hundreds of advertisements every day, and it is up to them to decide which ones are credible, relevant, and worth paying attention to. Consumers are becoming more wary, and more likely to take endorsements from an influencer with a pinch of salt.

So how can brands stay relevant and ensure the influencer marketing strategy they’ve got in place reaches the right audiences in the right way?



Brands often confuse ‘influence’ with popularity. Influence is “the power to have an effect on people or things”, and so when we assume credibility based on number of followers alone, we can’t ensure ROI. There are a number of factors we should be consider before embarking on a partnership with any influencer, online or offline.

  1. Credibility: will their audience believe the recommendation is genuine? Does the product or service they’re recommending align with their own personal brand.
  2. Oversaturation: how often does this influencer commit themselves to brand partnerships? If too many brands are working with the same influencer, their audience will eventually learn to tune out recommendations.
  3. Follow up: a failure to monitor the performance of your influencer collaboration could render the entire campaign pointless.


Identifying the right influencers

To avoid investing in the wrong kinds of influencers, brands should ensure they only collaborate with influencers who are motivated and authentic. They should either have expressed an interest in the brand previously, or brands similar. Creating a community ecosystem will help to visualise the existing connections between online communities (followers) of already identified influencers. In the past, Good Rebels have used tools specifically designed for the mapping of online communities to determine the degree of separation between each ‘node’ (individual) on the map. The larger the node, the more influential it is within the network. The heavier the edge (connection), the stronger the relationship.

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A visualisation created by Good Rebels which demonstrates the complexity of online communities within the eSports ecosystem.


An ‘always on’ approach

In order to impact new audiences, brands must develop a continuous model of ‘give and take’. Microtargeting can help brands identity influencers whose audience have yet to be overwhelmed by sponsored posts and video spots. Consumers have expressed their increasing preference for ‘authentic’ influencer endorsement over information supplied by the brand itself, now it’s up to brands to work out how to effectively utilise this army of online experts.

An ‘always on’ approach will help brands to improve performance and connect with new audiences over time. Start by understanding the audience you’re targeting, then identify the most suitable influencers to work with. Forget what you know about working with influencers – they’re not working for you, you’re working together. Committing yourself to a long-term relationship allows for the expression of a more multidirectional message in the future.captura de pantalla 2018 05 17 a las 13 27 02

A more basic approach to influencer marketing, where the influencer communicates through a single, distinctly commercial message across multiple platforms, should be abandoned in favour of a more personalised approach. Brands and influencers should agree in advance which information should be shared on which platform, in order to ensure the right audiences are being reached at the right time. Online fashion and beauty supplier ASOS is a prime example of a brand who have chosen their influencers and promotional channels wisely.


ASOS Insiders

Brand: ASOS

Summary: The ASOS Insiders influencer marketing campaign was designed to provide their audience with “fashion tips and style advice” via influential Instagram users. These users, or “Insiders” are a group of fashion-savvy young adults from all over the world. Their individual, ASOS branded, Instagram profiles can all be found on the ASOS insiders page. Influencers share photos of themselves in ASOS brand clothing, listing the product code in the caption. ASOS Insiders also use other platforms to showcase the brand, such as Pinterest and Snapchat.  

Results: The ASOS Insiders campaign is omnichannel, shoppable, relies on micro-influencers (500-100,000 followers), and focused on long term engagement. Immediately following the launch of the campaign, ASOS’ social audience grew to an impressive 12 Million.

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Beauty Squad

Brand: L’Oréal UK

Summary: Since 2016, L’Oréal has been working with a group of five popular beauty vloggers. They attend key industry events, help with product announcements and create content intended to engage a range of customers. Adrien Koaska, GM at L’Oréal Paris UK explained that L’Oréal don’t currently have any contractual relationship with their influencers, and that they’re all free to talk about the brand whenever they want.

Outcomes: The L’Oréal Beauty Squad has over 5.5 million followers on social, and is constantly evolving. The L’Oréal team is always looking for new talent, in their quest to differentiate their brand from others within the lifestyle and beauty sector.



To optimise your influencer marketing campaign, everything – from the definition, to the justification for doing it, to the methodologies and metrics used in implementing the campaign – must be updated. In selecting brand ambassadors, we must understand that influence stands between reach and impact. Some influencers will have the ability to reach large audiences, while others reach fewer people, but drive a commitment of a higher quality. Remember, the right influencers are already out there, they’re the ones proactively sharing their experiences with your brand online.