Service of Who Influences You Now?

November 4th, 2019

Categories: Cosmetics, Influencers, Marketing, Promotions, Social Media

Photo: emojis.wiki

When Pete Wells, The New York Times’ restaurant critic, recently gave legendary Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger zero stars, down from two, his review–Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now it Sputters–which knocked the stuffing out of the place, drew plenty of attention on local media.

Peter Luger steak Photo: pinterest.com

I’ve not heard of similar impact if a social media venue gave a thumbs down to a product or service. Yet companies believe in their significance to move goods and are paying plenty to get a thumbs up from people they’ve identified as social media influencers to rave to followers on Instagram, Facebook and the like.

According to Suzanne Kapner and Sharon Terlep in their Wall Street Journal article: “What began as friends and family sharing their favorite products has become a lucrative advertising industry of celebrity endorsers, influencers and meme creators. Such paid endorsements, known as sponsored content, are the online equivalent of a 30-second TV spot. Big-name stars can command $100,000 or more for a single YouTube video or Instagram photo.”

As so often happens, greed among some has weakened the value of what had become a good thing for the influencers. [The jury is still out as to whether such endorsements actually sell product and with some manufacturers the bloom is already off the rose.]

Photo: ipsy.com

The reporters wrote in “Advertisers Sour on Online Influencers,” that “a whiff of deceit now taints the influencer marketplace. Influencers have strained ties with advertisers by inflating the number of their followers, sometimes buying fake ones by the thousands. They also have damaged their credibility with real-life followers by promoting products they don’t use.”

The long Journal article gives examples, excuses and alternatives–some advertisers are now using their customers instead of celebrities to endorse products instead–but the paragraph above hits the crux of the flaws in the concept whereby consumers lost trust in influencer claims.  In addition, advertisers can’t track or confirm the success of a YouTube video or Instagram endorsement.

In fact Ipsy, the beauty products company that launched the trend eight years ago is “Now the brand leading the way again, this time by pulling back” from endorsements by influencers.

Click farm. Photo: core77.com

Nevertheless Kapner and Terlep reported that the influencer industry is still lucrative: Global estimates range from $4.1 to $8.2 billion/year in 2019 versus $500 million four years ago. Influencers have made 50 percent more each year in the last two. “Prices per Instagram post range from $200 for an influencer with as few as 10,000 followers to more than $500,000 for celebrities with millions of followers, according to Mediakix.”

One flaw: So-called influencers can easily bolster their follower numbers by hiring “click farms” that “employ people to inflate on-line traffic.” For $49 and $39 you can buy 1,000 YouTube and Facebook followers respectively and that number costs $16 on Instagram, one pundit estimated.

Do traditional reviews influence whether you’ll try a restaurant, product or buy tickets to a movie or Broadway show? Do you check out Yelp or websites that report what customers or patients think of establishments or doctors like ZocDoc? If a celebrity you admire says he/she likes a product on social media or anywhere else, do you give it a try?

Photo: cosmeticsbusiness.com

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9 Responses to “Service of Who Influences You Now?”

  1. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Do not trust celebrity endorsements. Will read Yelp reviews but that may not influence my choices. Info gathering purposes. If enough people complain about the same issues I take notice.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    We used to go to Hudson, NY quite often. I looked up on YELP a restaurant I wanted to try. So many of the reviews reported that the food was good but the owner was nasty to guests. We never tried the place.

    On a trip for a few days to the Mystic Seaport, Conn. area a few years ago I used YELP to research good places to eat using your formula–seeing what the majority had to say. All but one of the restaurants was good. The reviews of the one that was awful must have been written by friends and family members!

    I love Tom Selleck from “Blue Bloods” but when I see him in a commercial I have zero confidence that he knows a thing about what he’s pushing. What I do think? He should be making plenty between the new shows and the reruns of this TV series alone so why bother pushing insurance [or whatever it is].

  3. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    Well, one HAS to use things like Yelp reviews for quick checks in certain areas; but of equal importance as the reviews are the number of reviews the reviewer has done.

    Glowing reviews from reviewers who have only ever done a tiny number of reviews indicates a chef reviewing his own restaurant, a competitor reviewing his main competition, a looney with a bee in his bonnet trying to destroy a restaurant because he got into a row with the chef/server/management. Luckily these one-star reviewers often give the game away by telling the reader what the row was all about.

    As for celebrity reviews, why would anyone trust a celebrity to review a restaurant? You are almost BOUND to end up with some fake-reality star like Slimy-Donny rhapsodising in his fourth grade language about some McDonalds water flavoured hamburger and how good the dried out done-to-death steaks were?

    But my fav is that dictionary-definition of dumb on the pawn shop show who specialises in never having any idea what he is talking about and never knowing what anything is worth. He always takes his cues from whatever the owner says something is worth and usually just offers 30% of that figure. And the more he giggles nervously, the less he knows. The extent of the giggling directly correlates to the precise extent to which he doesn’t know anything about the item he is looking at, or its value.

    Suddenly HE is giving INVESTMENT ADVICE??

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Amanda,

    Thanks for the Yelp tips. Had I taken a better look at what folks had to say about that one place in Mystic Conn. that was so terrible food and service wise we’d not have wasted an evening.

    I don’t post reviews very often on Yelp [or anywhere else] and do so only for positive reasons. I might be the exception to your guideline that makes perfect sense.

    I wouldn’t take seriously a celebrity’s endorsement about a restaurant or a shampoo. I’m still giggling at your description of watery flavored hamburger and dried out done-to-death steaks!

    The only show I know involving appraisals is Antiques Roadshow that now depresses me so I don’t look. It sounds like you are describing a different show as AR has different appraisers all the time.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I am always cynical and mistrusting of influencer reviews. I tend to rely on word of mouth from people I know for many things such as restaurants, plays, cosmetic products and more. I assume that most of the gushing reviews I read are often manufactured to order. I don’t pay attention to Yelp. In fact except for publications like the “New Yorker” I don’t pay lots of attention to reviews of plays or movies. I do listen to NPR. I am cynical of doctor reviews.

    I am really overwhelmed by the excess amount of information hurled at us by unknowns.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I have been tripped up by Broadway shows everyone raved about. One was “Rent.” Critics and friends were all over the moon with praise. I went with a friend and both of us rolled our eyes. Several friends of various ages, men and women, saw “The Book of Mormon,” another play that got superb reviews and after years is still on Broadway. To a one they disliked it and thought it was vulgar and not funny.

    However, YELP has helped me avoid a bad meal in a town I don’t know or to check into one that intrigues me but as I wrote in another comment it also tripped me up with a review that enticed me to visit a very bad restaurant.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    Amanda,

    Your cynical irreverence sounds quite savvy and funny!

  8. Hugo Ripanykhazov Said:

    For really funny, check out the quasi-vegetarian hilarious review of PorterHouse, written by some complete idiot who hates steaks: Watch how she starts with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc!! You pretty much know what is coming from then on. She orders skirt steak although she doesn’t even know what it is. She demands the toughest cut of steak done to death because she has this brain-numbing idea that if a steak has any moisture whatsoever in it, that must be blood

    She does have a point, if you are stupid enough and only ever eat at McDonalds: Their hamburgers never have “blood” running out of them however rare you order their burgers, do they?

    Then she tries to complain to the staff when it turns out that a suitably qualified professional chef can’t actually cook a high quality steak COMPLETELY done to death and accidentally left some minuscule element of moisture in it. And she has to admit embarrassment when he points out to her that she is a complete redneck who has never actually eaten a proper steak before. Reading between the lines, she admits this and that someone needed to explain ‘steaks’ to her before she ordered.

    Lastly, note how she seems to know about the Keens pub menu for rednecks like she is!

    I couldn’t stop laughing when I read it and may never take TripAdvisor seriously again

    “Not worth a trip – go to Keens instead”
    1 of 5 starsReviewed December 8, 2013
    We went here with a good feeling the first impressions were not great with a unwelcoming hostess who wasn’t very pleasant. We were led to our table and the décor and general appearance of the restaurant were very pleasing. We ordered a glass of white sauvignon each and the wine was delicious. A waiter came round with a selection of breads and shouted if we would like some, the raisin and pecan bread was very tasty. I can’t say I am a big fan of steak I went as my husband loves steaks. They had a steak called a skirt steak I was told it was a thin steak with a lot of flavour, when asked how I would like it cooked I asked for medium to well – no blood. I know this is the way to eat steak but I cannot stomach eating steak with a pool of blood on my plate. My husband ordered the T-bone which was a special that night. When the steaks arrived I cut into my steak and out came some blood. My stomach was bit turned and I asked for the steak to be cooked more, the waiter (I assume he was a head waiter as he was wearing a nice jacket) argued that with that particular steak it would make the meat tough – this was never explained when I was ordering and I had asked for information. I felt a bit bullied into keeping this steak, he asked me to try it and it was ok if not overly salty. At this point I was truly embarrassed by the way I was being spoken to that I kept it as I didn’t want to order anything else. My husband enjoyed his steak but he does like his steak with a medium/rare.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hugo,

    Amazing example. Would someone who admitted “I dislike contemporary art,” be the one to write about the newly remodeled MoMA or an anti-war activist be the candidate to review a movie such as “Saving Private Ryan?” Jeepers.

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