Influencer marketing software and marketplace company IZEA released what it now calls a monthly survey last week. The stats were added to its impressive landing page full of great topical statistics. This new poll of 250 influencer and content marketing practitioners, all either at agencies or brands, lauded influencer marketing the way you would expect.

According to IZEA’s survey, influencer and content marketing are the most effective methods of marketing compared to traditional forms and have superior ROI to all specific alternatives. Most surveyed also think TV advertising is overrated.

And I bet if IZEA interviews zebras all would agree that lions are motherfuckers.

Look, I love IZEA. And I love Ted Murphy for creating it and putting some substance around influencer marketing years ago when we called it blogger outreach and sponsored posts. But if you’re going to survey practitioners in the industry, can you mine for insights that are useful?

The takeaways from the short list of insights IZEA added to its site I thought were worth adding to your arsenal of influencer intel include:

  • Celebrity influencers are perceived my most to not be a good value for the money. This isn’t new thinking, but it’s nice to have it as an output of research rather than an anecdote. They only say, “perceived by most marketers” so there’s no number to it, but it’s there.
  • Two out of three would give up some of their traditional media budgets to spend more on influencers and/or content marketing. Again … not revolutionary, but nice to have a research result to assert it.
  • Only 5-6% of those surveyed said they’d spend less money on influencer marketing in 2020. But only 40% said they plan to invest more. That’s a bit concerning to me if the audience is so gung-ho about the practice. Over 50% of them say their companies are spending too little on influencer marketing. Why wouldn’t they spend more if they, indeed, felt like it commanded a better return?  The survey shows that these folks say influencer and content out performs print by a 4:1 margin, radio by 3:1 and online banner ad by 2:1. They’re either overzealous on their praise of the practice, unable to put their money where their mouth is, or dumb.

If you want a survey of industry professionals in any vertical to have any credibility and be of any use, you have to intentionally avoid asking them if they think they’re awesome. The answer will always be affirmative. And your “news” will thus always be amplifying an obvious echo chamber.

And that undermines the credibility of influencer marketing as a practice.

Certainly, we still sit at the starting gate of the influencer marketing race. There will continue to be hesitation from brands and agencies to both recommend the practice, and allocate budget for it. But if you’ve been following influencer marketing at all, you know we are at that important initial saturation point where the posers fade away and the effective influencers emerge as viable options for brands.

These types of opinion surveys only reinforce our position in history. Influencer marketing is about to get very big — bigger than it is today. But instead of polling those of us who are doing it day-in and day-out, why don’t we get some measurements of what CEOs and CMOs say about it. What about mainstream consumers and small business owners?

If we want to really boost our confidence that we’re on the right path with influencer marketing, we’ve got to get out of the echo chamber and understand what everyone else thinks. That kind of survey might help us do more than tell each other how damn handsome we all are.

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