How to turn those horrible PowerPoints into presentations people are actually interested in

Death by PowerPoint. Oh, the horror! Blocks of text, black on white, on that huge screen, read aloud on an even tone with the presenter’s back to the audience. If you are really lucky, they also incorporate a bunch of blurry, boring stock photos. Admit it, you too have been one step away from falling asleep or pulling your hair during one of these presentations. People forget most of the time that the slides do not equal the presentation, they are just the visual support.

I’ve recently attended a presentation delivered by Neil Patel, and I have to say I was as impressed as I had expected to be. He used a great hook, he got interactive, asked questions and kept engaging the audience at various points during the process. His slides were simple and easy to follow, but all the attention fell on him, as it should be.

Here are a few steps to follow for outstanding presentations

Intro

Before you start working on anything, take a moment to think. What is the presentation for? Is it going to be sent via email? Then you have to include more text and be very careful with your choice of info. Be sure to write a follow-up email and add more details if necessary. Is it going to be delivered in front of an audience? Then you have to refine it accordingly, include more visuals and be brief. You want the public to pay attention to you and what you’re saying, not the screen. Create both versions if necessary, it takes more time but it’s worth the investment.

Get personal

What do we all hate when it comes to presentations? If your answer is standard, lifeless templates, then you’re right. Don’t offend your audience by using them. Instead, think of what appeals to them, do a little bit of research first. When you had your brand identity designed, you received your own templates, so put them to use. Once you create a style, follow it in all mediums. Use the same color palettes and fonts everywhere, so you’re coherent and people recognize your brand. You can create your own template or, if you’re not particularly creative, you can buy one and customize it. Either way, it shows your audience you care enough to put effort into it.

Avoid info overload

Oh, the horror again! I’ll probably say that a few more times by the end of this post, so brace yourselves 😉 Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need to give away huge amounts of data. Your audience has a limited attention span. This is where sorting and writing skills really pay off. Sometimes it’s better to break that slide with 10 bullet points into 2 or 3 separate slides. Pick only those pieces of info which may be of interest and can benefit you. Always keep in mind your audience, your presentation has to keep them interested, not you. A frequent mistake is getting too technical, in which case you will lose everyone’s attention in the blink of an eye. Maybe explaining to a 6 year-old or to your grandma isn’t just an overused phrase in the startup world.

Choose your images & symbols accordingly

An image speaks more than 1,000 words, so use imagery wisely. It is a defining element which can ruin or majorly improve a presentation. Go for high quality graphics and avoid clipart at all costs. Especially that which comes included with PowerPoint. Coordinate colors or use black & white, remember you are aiming for coherence. My favorite kind of slides are those made up of just an image, but a well-picked one. Add an inspiring quote or a phrase to support your verbal description, and you’ve got a winner.

Less is more

Keeping things simple is difficult. To avoid overload, think if it’s really necessary to use that image, those extra words or whatever other elements. If you can’t say yes and explain why on the spot, then the answer is no. Never ever use animated transitions between the slides. Maybe it was nice while you were using it for projects in school, but in the grown up world it’s an artifice you don’t really need and which makes you look unprofessional. Most importantly (this is a rule I swear by in everything I do), edit mercilessly.

Avoid charts if you can

There’s this myth that a presentation isn’t a proper presentation without charts. Oh, the horror of having to look at graphs you don’t understand and listen to figures and jargon you don’t care about. I feel you. If you absolutely must, use pie charts and make them as simple as possible. People don’t have the patience to decipher chunks of data irrelevant to them.

Check your details carefully

It goes without saying that you should always aim for the accuracy of your writing. Triple check your grammar and spelling. Always choose the word that best fits into the context. Thesaurus.com is an excellent resource to help you with that. Make sure you have the same fonts and colors throughout all your slides. The text should be coherent overall. If you use bullet points on a slide, don’t put a paragraph on the following one. Consistency and coherence are your goals. Check if all your links work and if you have included all your sources. Don’t forget to add your email on the Thank you slide.

Presentations don’t have to be boring. Be fun, make unexpected associations, go that extra mile no matter what you’re speaking about. Ask for feedback, and remember you should measure your success in the amount of emotion you manage to raise in others.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Advertisements

Thursday tips

aurelien-sinte-328790

Photo by Aurélien Sinte on Unsplash

Shonda Rhimes & Cindi Stivers: The future of storytelling

“We all feel a compelling need to watch stories, to tell stories … to discuss the things that tell each one of us that we are not alone in the world,” says TV titan Shonda Rhimes. A dominant force in television since “Grey’s Anatomy” hit the airwaves, Rhimes discusses the future of media networks, how she’s using her narrative-building skills as a force for good, an intriguing concept known as “Amish summers” and much more, in conversation with Cyndi Stivers, director of the TED Residency.

 

Why the customer isn’t always right & what to do about it

The saying goes that our client is our master. In other words, clients have the right to interfere and dictate us ways of action. I have seen this happening quite a lot lately, especially when it comes to established brands. It’s a mistake many marketers make, an intentional compromise that lowers the value of their work but fills their pockets.

damon-funny-gif-humor-Favim.com-2619838

Our clients may be the best in their field. But they don’t know how to do marketing, that’s why they hire us. They choose and trust us for our expertise. So we should remind them about that when they try to impose their ideas as the only available options. Most of the time, they are all into aggressive self promotion, sales, worthless content, more sales, stuff no one cares about, and yes, even more sales. It’s the sure recipe for failure, and the visible sign is that a page with 3,000 followers has only 2 likes per post.

The marketers who accept such an attitude do it exclusively for the financial gains. They develop long lasting relationships which involve strategies done 90% by the client, so their effort is minimum. They aren’t interested in growing that business or getting results, they are interested in receiving their exaggerated bill month after month. It’s our duty to signal unrealistic expectations and suggest alternatives which are more likely to become reality.

When you really want to achieve something, you fight for it. Even with the most pretentious of clients, we can still do our job the right way. We just need to be subtle when we make suggestions. It means more effort on our side, and people skills, but we’re marketers after all, aren’t we? There’s nothing a cup of coffee and a drop of wisdom and energy can’t solve.

People expect excellence and results from us, but they tie our hands and don’t let us express ourselves. They’re killing our creativity. There are a few things we can do when that happens. You’re not doing yourself or the client any favor by shutting up, on the contrary. So stop pulling your hair and taking deep breaths to avoid an outburst.

You have a finite amount of time and energy. Don’t waste it on something unreasonable which will turn into a source of stress. Don’t feel guilty about moving on. No matter the level your business is at, you can afford to lose bad clients. When someone becomes a pain, you can always stop collaborating with them. In time you’ll see money isn’t worth everything, and especially not your balance. And you will certainly find valuable clients who will respect your working style.

Almost a year ago, I met the owner of a printing agency who said he only takes on projects that pique his interest. Back then I thought he was arrogant. Now, when I’ve grown professionally myself and I’ve seen with my own eyes the quality materials they deliver, I admire him. In this day and age, the agency is not online because they’re swamped with orders. They have exclusive customers and seldom accept new ones, based on recommendations from existing clients.

Clients may think they are experts and assume something is supposed to work a certain way. When they think they know better how you should do your job, don’t forget you have all the know-how you need. Don’t misguide them by letting them think they’re right, it will only harm your business in the long run. Don’t be arrogant about it, but remind them you are the marketer.

The odious phrase “the customer is always right” is attributed to Harry Gordon Selfridge. Yes, that Selfridge. But since 1909 when he defined it the world has changed. You will never be able to innovate as long as you don’t have enough freedom. So know your worth, constantly prove your expertise and work smart 😉

Thursday tips

In this day and age, everyone is struggling to grow. Which is why today I’m bringing a new series on the blog, Thursday Tips, dedicated to growth hacking. Stay tuned every Thursday for the weekly tip.

Every decision that a growth hacker makes is informed by growth. Every strategy, every tactic, and every initiative, is attempted in the hopes of growing. Growth is the sun that a growth hacker revolves around. Of course, traditional marketers care about growth too, but not to the same extent. Remember, the power of a growth hacker is in their obsessive focus on a singular goal. By ignoring almost everything, they can achieve the one task that matters most early on.

Neil Patel

creative-in-startupland-growth-hacks-goals

The simple but monumental differences between B2B & B2C marketing

Marketing is a complex field. Actually it is a maze of its own where you have to navigate carefully to lead clients and their customers from start to finish. I may be a little bit subjective here, since I mostly do B2B marketing, but from my experience B2C is the easy way out because of various reasons you will read throughout the post.

Let’s begin with the audience and market. While B2B audiences are avid for knowledge and info because they need and want to stay on top, B2C audiences are looking for something entertaining, short and sharable. And if it’s a bargain, all the better. The message is completely different and has to be tailored to that specific audience. While in B2B content has to be detailed and long, and to make use of jargon as much as possible in order to show expertise, in B2C it needs to be fun, easy to remember and spoken in the audience’s daily language. And since we’re on this topic, the markets vary in size as well. B2B markets are generally small niche markets with at most a few hundred thousand customers, while B2C are incredibly wide markets, with tens of millions of customers.

Purchasing decision is another hot topic with tremendous differences for both areas. B2B purchases are usually based on logic, while B2C purchases are all about emotion. While B2C marketing addresses just one individual at a moment in time, B2B marketing is about a group of individuals who have to reach an agreement and to be able to justify their decision using arguments. This decision can turn them into heroes or it can cost them their jobs in the long run. Naturally, more individuals involved in the decision making process and the organizational procedures which have to be followed translates into more time (months up to years) and money spent on the sales cycle.

B2B marketing is by far more expensive, and it has to be backed up by 3 key elements: logic, financial benefits for customers and data. For the B2C category, the purchasing process is much shorter, varying from minutes to days at most. B2C marketing is based on one-off opportunities where the audience has to be convinced they need and want that product. Basic needs such as hunger can be triggers, but most of the time it’s about cost, desire and status. B2C marketing is led by want, and its cost scales from a few dollars to a few thousand, while B2B marketing is driven by need and budget and it can cost anything between thousands and millions.

B2C marketing is about convincing a single customer to buy a product in order to satisfy an immediate need. Ok, maybe that lipstick isn’t an immediate need, but if you were a woman, you’d understand why you have to have the exact shade your friend just bought. B2B marketing, on the other hand, is all about offering complex solutions for corporate pain points. It’s not as easy to sell technology to a bunch of C level people who have no clue about needing to upgrade. While B2C relationships are usually short, B2B relationships are lengthy. A company won’t switch providers easily, especially if they are satisfied with their services. Sales will be repeated throughout the relationship, and customers can benefit from extended services such as installation, updates, upgrades, etc. Of course, the marketing & sales effort has to prove deep knowledge about the product, about how it works and about exactly what the customers receive upon purchase.

Marketing in general focuses on the benefits a product or service can bring to customers, and less on its features. B2B marketing should be specific on how the product saves money, time and resources, while B2C marketing should be very clear and to the point about how the product will help consumers. Individuals do not have the patience or willingness to try and understand all about new products, while companies can designate a department for that matter. Whatever type of marketing you choose, do it smartly and sprinkle some creativity on top. Don’t be afraid to find new angles and do what hasn’t been done before.

What does a marketer do & why your business needs one

According to BusinessDictionary.com, a marketer is

A person whose duties include the identification of the goods and services desired by a set of consumers, as well as the marketing of those goods and services on behalf of a company.

So far so good. Except it’s nowhere as easy as it sounds. It’s like in those memes with sections like what the world thinks I do, what my friends think I do, what I think I do and what I actually do. The lucky ones who get to lead departments stick to planning and make sure those plans are implemented according to their vision. The rest of us do anything and everything, from establishing a strategy to setting a budget to designing and collecting branded materials. It’s a hands on approach that benefits us personally much more, because we can develop a wide range of skills. Some days can be tougher than others, and our to do lists look a lot like children’s lists to Santa, but in the end it feels great to know you’ve accomplished so much.

A marketer is first and foremost a strategist who adds value to a business. We build the bridge between our clients and their customers. As Seth Godin sees it,

Our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.”

We will learn everything there is to learn about your business, understand the way it works, then spread the word about your company, your products and services and do it without being too obvious about it. Instead of stuffing products in the customers’ faces, we will raise their interest and attract them to you. Marketers aren’t sales people, we don’t spend our time ringing doorbells or making phone calls at any given inappropriate time.

We will define your brand and create or refine your visual identity. We will research and analyze the market to see where you can best emerge. We will create fabulous content and visuals to be shared on social media or your website. We will do everything in our power to provide your customers with relevant info that will weigh in their purchasing decision.

Although it may sound a bit presumptuous of us, we work for both our clients and their customers. Since the buying behavior has suffered radical changes, leaning on research and recommendations now more than ever, we have adapted our ways. We have to leave our selves at the door and put on the shoes of the buyer. Apart from offering information, we should pique their interest and emphasize the benefits they can have if they choose the product or service we are marketing. We should be level headed enough to do that using their own language and way of communicating instead of choosing jargon and a formal tone that nobody appreciates.

You may offer the best services and products, but only a handful of people would know about them if it weren’t for marketers. For a business to succeed, potential customers need to know about it. Marketing takes care of a wide range of details, from advertising and PR to promotions and sales. A marketer’s priority is to create awareness among potential buyers, to get the word out, with the final purpose of increasing sales. Because whether we are willing to admit it or not, it’s all about higher sales volumes. Happy customers will always spread the word about the amazing new product they’ve bought and how much easier it makes their lives. Of course, that’s an ideal case, and it does not apply to every business. But you get the drift. Through branding, a marketer will also help a company establish a reputation, which in turn will transform one time buyers into loyal customers who adhere to the same values.

5 reasons why you should repurpose content & 5 ways to do it with great results

You reap what you sow. Let’s face it, we don’t always have time and inspiration to create brilliant content on a roll. Good content can be transformed and reused. Less favored content can be spiced up. You can reach new audiences. The possibilities are endless. It’s like your own diy project where you can get as creative as you want. Repurposing content is a great way to support your other marketing efforts.

Also, you should keep in mind that people are equally attracted by content in visual, audio or video form, so this can be a great way to reach all potential audiences. While the most common ways to repurpose content are infographics, videos, and presentations, the palette is way larger and it also includes reports, articles, whitepapers, ebooks, case studies, etc. You don’t have to go for all of them, experiment and see what your audience likes best. Be careful though, not all content can be repurposed. Don’t fall into the redundancy trap. Remember quality should always be above quantity.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should repurpose content

1. It saves you time and effort. Don’t forget people are looking for different things. Some are doing research because they want to buy your products or services, others just want to make a comparison, while others simply need info or an expert’s opinion on something. The same content will appeal differently to them according to their varied needs. Instead of creating different pieces of content for all of them, you can create just one piece and remodel it as needed. You already have the foundation, all you need is to give it a new shape. As a bonus, you can focus on more urgent matters, like creating new content or other aspects of your marketing strategy or your business.

2. Diversified posts and mediums lead to an increased online presence. That translates into more traffic. It can be a little confusing, since everyone is preaching consistency when it comes to content and marketing in general. But it certainly doesn’t mean you should stick to just one medium and communicate everything through it. After all, you wouldn’t enjoy eating the same food again and again every day, would you? Another perk of repurposing content is improved SEO. It sounds flamboyant, but it’s actually a simple and logical process. More quality content from your website helps search engines recognize it as a trusted, credible source of info and give it a higher ranking. This can also happen when other people share your content. Everyone is aiming for a strong online presence, because that means your brand is visible, people know about you, you can create a loyal audience and so on. The chain will eventually end with having more customers, which is what you are striving for.

3. It helps you reach a wider audience or new readers. Chances are you gather more knowledge or new info is released over a period of time and you can add more interesting points to articles you’ve already written, thus making them more valuable to your audience. In time you gather new readers, and they probably won’t dig as far as what you published a year before. But you could turn that great post into an infographic or newsletter, and bring it to their attention. Your most recent followers will certainly appreciate it. And maybe sometimes it’s all about timing. A lot can happen in a few months, and a subject that wasn’t well received because it was ahead of its time might become viral later.

4. More types of content mean more expertise for you. Marketers need to be jacks of all trades. We can write good copy, but we should also master compelling images, interesting audios and riveting videos. It’s all part of the larger game. Different strategies lead to different results, and to a broader palette of skills for us. As I was saying in a previous post, jobs aren’t limited to grids anymore, they have multiple requirements and the lines are blurring. The best thing you can do is be as versatile as possible, to adapt on the go, and for that you need to have know-how.

5. It sends your message more strongly across different channels. When you use different mediums to communicate your content, it doesn’t make it redundant, but diverse. Your followers will definitely connect the dots between channels and mediums, and realize there is a common theme, and you are good at more than just one thing. Maybe they’ll care little about your latest blog post, but they will love the flatlay you just uploaded to Instagram and click on the link in bio anyway.

And here are 5 ways you can repurpose your content

1. Social media posts. This is by far my favorite way to reuse content. It’s incredibly easy, and it saves me the trouble of brainstorming for more or less inspired captions. On the plus side, it helps me establish myself as an expert by providing useful info. Whether you share the main points or the outline, snippets of info, quotes, statistics, make sure to link back to the original post. This way you can raise the interest of those who haven’t read it yet.

2. Infographics guarantee instant success. Images get more views and shares than text, that’s a fact. Another fact is that people are more likely to understand info better in this form, because it breaks complex notions into simple elements. Make sure you choose the most relevant points. The thing about infographics is they have to be very concise, so turning a 1,500 word article into a structured image is a challenge.

3. Sharing across different platforms should be a rule you follow by heart. And here I don’t just mean social, but also LinkedIn, Medium, Steemit, you name it. It has to do with building your online presence and reaching your audience wherever they are. Creating great content doesn’t mean anything unless you promote it to the right people.

4. SlideShare. Don’t you just love how you can go through a well thought and built presentation and learn so much? Why not create your own? You can divide your post into an outline or main points, add images and there you have it. Generally presentations should have little text, but this is a special case since the people will read it instead of hearing or seeing you deliver it. Don’t go overboard, but don’t be scarce either. Find the middle way.

5. Spin-offs. When you start writing, you start getting all these brilliant ideas that don’t fit the respective theme or are too extensive to cover in the same article. The natural thing to do is treat them separately, offering them their due importance. You won’t need extended research, since you probably already came across a few details you can incorporate. If you’re like me, you’re always left with extra info when you write, so try to make the best use of it for future articles.

I only chose 5 ways to repurpose content because these are the easiest and most common. Regardless of the form, you should always keep in mind what you want to transmit, what you want your audience to do and always link back to the original article or your blog or website. Take small steps and learn what your followers best react to. And don’t forget to have fun while at it.

Bran Castle: how to create a tourist gem with great marketing

Last week we went on vacation to Bran and stayed at our usual spot, Club Vila Bran. One of the things I love about the place is that you can sit on the terrace and have a glimpse at Bran Castle. As I was sipping my latte and planned the next blog post, it dawned on me that my subject is right in front of me. What better lesson in marketing than Bran?

Bran offers a valuable insight into how a fictional character can turn into a branding landmark for a country and it can revive an entire area. With so many tourists visiting, you wouldn’t expect the roads to be in such poor conditions. Yet they are, so you have to drive carefully if you want your car to still be in one piece at the end of the trip.

The village is equally divided between homes & tourist accommodations, and the nearer you get to the castle, the more languages mingle. I feel like laughing every time I hear someone speaking enthusiastically about Dracula and wish I could also see their face after they visit the castle. The truth is that the entire region lives through tourism, and it has adapted accordingly. The authorities haven’t moved one finger, but smart people are taking advantage of what is known as Dracula tourism.

There are 2 connections between Bran Castle and the story of Dracula. One is through Bram Stoker’s novel where he depicted the fortress without actually having seen it. The other happened thanks to a group of American tourists who begged their guide to show them Dracula’s castle. Since there was no such thing, the first idea that crossed his mind was bring them to Bran. Everyone was happy and the “pilgrimage” was born. Coincidentally or not, Bran Castle holds the 1st place in American tourists’ positive associations with Romania, and 4th place for international tourists.

Let’s talk about fiction and truth first. The place gained its fame after being identified as Count Dracula’s abode described in Bram Stoker’s novel. Count Dracula is often overlapped, intentionally or not, with Vlad the Impaler, ruler of Wallachia. What enthusiastic tourists conveniently don’t know is that Stoker avoided to tie his characters to real people. The count is entirely a product of his imagination. On the other hand, Vlad, the real person, spent at most a couple of months at Bran Castle, according to the most recent historical evidence.

The gothic castle is on top of a small hill, near a pass in the mountains. The dense woods surrounding the valley create a picturesque landscape, and there is absolutely nothing spooky about it. Well, except for the street market full of tasteless knick knacks near the entry. The castle looks much better from the outside than on the inside. The visitors are mostly people from Western Europe and the US who come to learn about Dracula. Instead, they are offered a tour with long explanations and historical truths which bore them.

In spite of the most recent renovations and improvement efforts, the place is still overcrowded, full of replica furniture and poorly costumed people. What attracts tourists is the legend, and the cobbled stone, the narrow passages and staircases contribute to it. There are no howling wolves however, unless someone plays an audio, nor are there any bats. The area is actually very quiet and peaceful, and many are disappointed because they can’t distinguish between fiction and reality.

Last year Airbnb organized a competition where a couple won a sleepover in the castle. The event included a carriage ride, it was hosted by one of the descendants of Bram Stoker, a self-proclaimed vampire expert, and it culminated with going to sleep in velvet trimmed coffins. That’s a little extreme, but the lengths someone would go for promoting their business depend. For a few years now, Halloween tours and parties have been organized here, all in partnership with important sponsors. Apart from mass tourism, private events held here increase the fame and probably pave the way for the idea of an exclusive accommodation.

At present, it makes a tidy profit, but in the right hands it has the potential to generate far more revenue than we could ever imagine.” Mark Meyer

When you leave the castle, you simply can’t escape the vampire paraphernalia at the gates. It has everything you can’t imagine, from plastic vampire teeth dripping blood to witch masks to purple, blue or green puppies whose eyes lit. Those are more scary than the whole vampire myth. There are also a lot of so-called traditional products, all imported from China. A few hundred meters away, there are a couple of small shops where you can find authentic Romanian products, handmade by the locals.

Like I said earlier, the valley thrives with the help of tourism. There is an abundance of B&Bs, but the best place for accommodation is by far Club Vila Bran, which offers plenty of entertainment. The restaurant is open for visitors if you want to try traditional food, for all the rest you have to be a guest. The locals are very friendly and helpful, and they are famous for the smoked cheese they make.

Image from here 

Why influencer marketing is a big fat lie

I’ve had it. I’ve seen so many posts tagged #nsale since last Friday that I can’t take it anymore. And I’ve seen so many posts of Romanian bloggers having nose jobs at the same doctor, wearing the same dress, copying hairstyles and using tags wrong that I feel compelled to write about it. Fast backward to a couple of years ago, there was the aggressive advertising of the green box. It was actually an online shopping platform, and you couldn’t escape it. It was obvious the pics and captions were fakes, you could see from miles away that the respective person hadn’t written them. They all had the same style, and no ounce of individuality. It went as far as taking pics with the box at the door of the plane, using the juice extractor wearing their Sunday best and so much more that proved how much the PR agency lacked creativity. Influencers have no boundaries. They will pose in furniture showrooms and pretend they’re cooking in their kitchen, groomed to perfection, of course. Sometimes they won’t even add a caption, throwing in just a bunch of emojis. Maybe because they aren’t capable of writing something worthy of attention and they know it all too well.

What exactly is an influencer? A person looking for money. Or, to put it elegantly, someone who rents their social media accounts to a brand for a fee. There are 2 categories of influencers. The very few who can sell and earn millions of dollars because they are smart & subtle, and those who try too much, are too obvious about it and don’t really “influence” anyone. This post refers mainly to the latter. We’re long past the time we saw our idols wearing or using something and we’d be in a frenzy to have it. Influencers don’t really have a say in our buying decisions. What they can achieve at most is bring products to our attention.

When we think of influencers, we think of people with a great number of followers. What we seem to lose sight of is the fact that reach doesn’t equal engagement. Here I can give a straightforward example, a fashion blogger with over 1 million followers on Instagram only. Her pics have at most 15k likes. That’s 1,5 % engagement. She gathers a maximum of 200 comments per picture, including her own replies. That means 0,02%. And sorry but I’m not sorry to burst your bubble. That doesn’t offer any guarantee someone who sees the pic will automatically buy that bag. (insert Prada Midollino link net a porter) Reach doesn’t equal sales. Artificial follower growth is available to anyone these days, and it allows virtually anyone to become an influencer. You need a blog with 25k views to be able to get deals with brands, that’s all it takes.

In terms of budget, influencer marketing is mostly a loss, because brands pay great chunks of money and often there is no ROI. An influencer’s “worth” is not quantifiable, unfortunately. There are no guidelines to establish how far their “influence” goes. Some brands use criteria such as the type of content they share, the number of followers and engagement rates. However, that does not necessarily convert into sales, and marketers should know better. They determine ROI in 3 key areas: reach and impressions, engagement and conversions. Brands also encourage newcomers, because talent on the rise is cheaper. For the first time in history, PR budgets focus more on influencers than on TV or print.

There have been cases in the beauty industry when a Snapchat video had amazing sales results, the digital influencer was paid up to a seven figure amount for exclusivity and became brand ambassador. But that’s one in a million. Not everyone has that finesse, and not every influencer has that kind of power over their audience.

Let’s be honest here. How we spend our money is solely our decision and no influencer in this world has a say in it, like I said above. I come from a country where it would take 2 minimum wages to buy the cheapest pair of Louboutins, provided you don’t spend money on trivialities like food and bills. The fact that people like a picture doesn’t mean they will buy whatever the influencer is wearing.

Also, there is a problem of credibility. Not everything we see on social media is real or true, and we are aware of it. Without realizing it, brands have created a class of experts without any real authority, which recommend products. They pay for trips around the world, for drive tests, for accommodation in exclusive resorts and so on. The same blogger will advertise clothes, make-up and skincare, home appliances, food, furniture and say they were given products for tests or they’ve partnered with brands for a giveaway. Doesn’t that make you wish you were chosen for a free remake of your living room as well? How can they earn trust if they’re being so transparently dishonest?

An Australian blogger took things as far as claiming she had won the battle with terminal cancer using natural remedies and a special diet. Not only did she make it to the limelight, but she took advantage of the popularity she had gained and launched an app and a cookbook. Later, she admitted her diagnosis was a hoax, but the earnings she had promised to donate to various charities never reached their destination.

There’s a less known angle that influencers conveniently forget to mention. Followers don’t actually react very well to sponsored content or ads, so the solution is to find ways to evade admitting they’re endorsing products and making money while at it. And if they don’t earn, they don’t need to pay taxes either, right? Remember the recent scandal about celebrities who posted product ads on Instagram and never paid a dime for taxes? Fortunately, regulations took care of the matter and dishonesty is now sanctioned not only by followers, but also by law.

Many influencers claim to be naive and innocent, and to have acted according to the instructions they received from the legal departments of brands. At the end of the day, they take no responsibility if something goes wrong. They are generally paid to express opinions on what is hot, but they sometimes get carried away and express opinions which might be detrimental to brands in the long run. And the worst is that they cannot be held accountable for it.

To conclude with two more examples of influencer marketing negative results, brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have suffered a massive decay within the luxury segment. Luxury brands are supposed to show off wealth and status, and the fact that the masses are increasingly wearing them means the rich minority will ignore them and reorient towards more exclusive items.

Wether we like it or not, whether it has positive or negative results, influencer marketing is a phenomenon causing a hype right now. Its efficiency rates are questionable, however it is on the rise and it appears it will keep growing in the future. So it’s something worth keeping an eye on.