Calling all influencers – did you see the news yesterday?
I know we haven’t done a from the desk post in a while and while this may be a departure from PR 101, I figured a peek under the hood of what I do was timely given that one of the biggest influencer networks closed its doors yesterday.
Update: The original article noted MODE declared bankruptcy which is factually inaccurate – the statement has been updated.
The network was one of the first to operationalize the bloggers taking creative minds and marketing their mass influence, reach and “authenticity” to brands at scale – absolutely brilliant, right? What a moneymaker! $1 Billion to be exact.
But what happens when that system breaks down? Who’s responsible? What happens to the lost jobs, the invoices that remain unpaid and the income streams that suffer? All great questions and some that may never be answered. I had a discussion with a blog friend of mine as she asked – Is this the beginning of the end for bloggers/networks and influencer marketing?
NOT EVEN CLOSE.
As you all know my job is based on this ecosystem. The brands that want to reach bloggers, the PR Pros and managers that connect and create campaigns and the bloggers that collaborate on them. This is a function of my job at one of the top PR agencies in the world representing some of the biggest global brands and it’s not going anywhere.
Read more: Mode Media Bankruptcy: What to Do Now and Mode Media Alternatives (Via:Oh She Blogs)
A PEEK UNDER THE HOOD
Putting my PR Pro/Influencer specialist hat on – brands are hungrier than ever for authentic brand endorsing content – I see it and work on campaigns for big brands every day. What bloggers need to know is that just because a network shut its doors due to some serious faulty math, the influencer community while slightly flawed has never been stronger. In fact, rewardStyle reports (via Forbes) that through affiliate marketing alone, influencers are estimated to drive more than $700 million in retail sales in 2016. And that’s just one arm of a bloggers typical revenue stream. There’s even more money in brand partnerships.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
Truly, besides some major life changes for those that work at MODE and some angry bloggers who are out some serious cash (including me! I’m pissed – FYI) …it’s business as usual. But instead of just sharing the article with the all the monkey emojis among blog friends, I gave some thought to some of the other kinks in the system and what players involved could do to improve them.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE INFLUENCER ECOSYSTEM
No doubt brands understand the power that influencers have. It’s a storybook situation when someone with major influence shares an authentic first-hand positive account of an experience with your product or service. These days – sometimes that influence comes at a cost. Instead of thinking of cost as authentic storytelling, great imagery, personal endorsements and mass reach – brands all too often think the exchange of a dollar means, control, a brand speak megaphone and automatic fans. So to close the gap between expectation and brand spend consider:
Let me caveat this entire section by saying – I’ve seen all sides. The brand side, the bloggers side and worked in both. Some of my readers/blog friends I’ve even worked with on brand campaigns. It makes it fun – and it’s fun to help your friends grow their business when you believe in their product (<– key!).
I read blogs every day. I know when posts sound thrown together, when others SING with authenticity and I recommend bloggers for campaigns based on their reach and more importantly quality of output – it makes my job easier when I can justify a multi-thousand dollar spend to a client when a blogger has really taken the time to create a GREAT product.
Eva Chen was truly ahead of her time when in 2010 she urged a group of emerging bloggers at LuckyFabb to do whatever they could to be as authentic as possible, a goal we all should continue to strive for. So bloggers consider:
FOR PR PROS – MANAGERS, AGENTS, ETC.
There’s one last party – the “me’s” of the world! We’re the middlemen, the creative campaign creators and the advocates for those on both sides. Essential (at least I’d like to think so) to decipher expectations and outputs from each party and make a collaboration work! Just like a blogger you’re a third party, but you’re responsible for two bottom lines not one.so to prove your worth, consider:
OKAY I’M DONE – BUT ONE MORE THING…
What I LOVE about this Influencer world and why I decided to make both a career and hobby out of it is that it rewards those that celebrate their unique view of the world, authenticity to who they are and builds business on creativity. The influencer bubble may shrink, pricing may be regulated, FTC rules may be created and the business may reach a new normal but I hope it will never burst – why, because there will always be power in consumer perception and a curiosity into what people think about anything and everything. So in the words of Common…
“If you feel passionate about something in your soul, continue to pursue it. Pursue it with all the love you have.”
MODE may be gone – but we’re not – and there’s comfort in that.
Images re. Ashley Brooke Designs.
Writers Note: Based on a few social media responses from those who may have not made it to the end of this post and got hung up on the headline – This post was not written or intended to offend or minimize the effect of MODE Media’s shutdown on bloggers – I too am a member of the former GLAM/MODE network, have not been paid on my campaigns for TargetStyle. Rather this post was to share that there is much more to this world to consider and there’s much we can do to improve it. Hope it helps!