When Failure to Influence is More Rewarding: A Short Story

Social Media Influencer

Social Media InfluencerMarketing. Advertisements. Influencer mentality.

These terms and their associated actions can be described differently depending on who you ask. In fact, it can be argued that there are no agreeable conditions of what constitutes a robust marketing approach, particularly in cases where influencers (however you define it) are involved. This grey area has been subject to a series of complaints that arose from influencers that failed to push a product or service but got paid handsomely in the end.

Pulsar did an interesting thread on Twitter, which highlighted the lengths influencers are willing to go to make an extra buck. The case study examines an Instagram model and ‘travel influencer’ with an excess of 860K followers in the Facebook-owned, picture-sharing and aggressive ad-serving platform. Looking at her page with a binary lens, the number of followers she commands is impressive, and any marketing manager may think they are making a mistake by not engaging her in gigs.

So, what does she do? Simple. Leverage her popularity by launching a 12-week course on how to be a kickass travel influencer. The course would cost KES 50,000 – and if you think that is just too much, relax, there is a reason.

“I wanted the price to be a little ‘painful’ so it feels like an investment,” she says. The lesson to be learnt here is simple: pricing communicates subliminal messages because it affects a person’s perception of quality, value and overall desire to invest in a product. If something is expensive, it is of high quality and vice versa. Low prices do not necessarily encourage more sales.

That aside, the trick worked. The program attracted 380 signups, netting in $188,860 in revenue. Sleek.

On the bright side of things, the influencer in question created 9 hours of video content that made more than KES 2 million per hour. However, she did not pass up the chance to drop some wisdom about online content.

“When posing for pictures, try not to look pregnant. Also, people who work at Starbucks aren’t living up to their potential,” she says. Some may call it body-shaming or judgmental, but we are not here to bemoan her semantics.

Obviously, the sign ups were substantial, and one of the students was somehow going to fault the class. Thusly, a Medium post went live to cry foul of an expensive course that taught them nothing. You can read more about the post here. It is an interesting post that delves into the specifics of the influencer mentality. The narrative was also picked up by Buzzfeed News, which echoed it to a wider audience.

To this end, she (Aggie) was forced to issue an apology for her disappointed students. “I want to sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart who anyone who feels like what I shared wasn’t enough,” she says.

Finally, are you aware that you can be sued for failure to influence/using competing products in a marketing world that takes advantage of social media connoisseurs, some of which are just fraudsters who are eyeing quick money?

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]