• Daniel Trösch

The Influencer Economy Is Taking Off As Content Marketing Collapses

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Tom Augenthaler

By Tom Augenthaler

Founder of The Influencer Marketer as well as a speaker and trainer, coaching business owners and marketers how to reach new consumers and promote their brands more easily by working with online influencers.

Back in 2009, journalist turned influencer, Tom Foremski, predicted that all companies would become media companies one day.

He was right. The future has arrived.

Today most companies are, to some extent, media companies because they consistently produce content about their brands and products in the attempt to reach and engage their respective audiences.

They publish ads, articles on their websites, white papers, content on their blogs, videos on their YouTube channels and promote all of this on their social channels.

It’s not just consumer brands either.  Business to business (B2B) firms are on the content marketing kick too with 70% of them creating more content than they did last year:


Source: Tamba

Everyday brands are pumping out “owned content.” This takes the form content published on their blogs and social channels as well as advertising.

Sounds great, right?  Invest in producing your own content marketing engine so you can reach your customers and prospects directly, develop a better relationship with them and sell more widgets.

But there is a little problem with this scenario…

The hard reality is that brands are not trusted and that means much of their content gets overlooked and dismissed entirely by consumers they want to reach and persuade. The following illustration by McKinsey & Co. shines a harsh light on this truth:

The pie chart by McKinsey & Co

The pie chart by McKinsey & Co demonstrates an inverse relationship between marketing dollars spent and level of consumer trust. A majority of the consumers surveyed don’t trust paid media – which is not a surprise.

Consumers don’t want ads. They find them annoying so they find ways to turn them off and ignore them.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 26% of desktop user and 15% of mobile users are blocking ads as of July 2016. That figure has probably grown in the intervening months. Consumers want more control over what they see and ad blocking software gives that to them.

Brands had to do something to combat lower ad visibility. The easiest route was to put more resources into content marketing – which was great for a while. The trouble is, in-house content marketing is hitting a wall.

Content Marketing Implosion

Just a couple of years ago, 78 percent of brands increased their content output. At the same time, average content engagement decreased by a shocking 60 percent!

Engagement decreased by 60 percent!

We have arrived at what content marketing expert, Mark Schaefer, calls “Content Shock.” Mark’s premise is this:

“In any human, natural, or economic system, when there is an overabundance of some commodity, and there is a limited capacity to consume that good, something has to change. My post was a call to arms, pointing out that what worked in content marketing a few years ago — when content was a novelty — will not work in this era or overwhelming information density. Simply, the economics of content are changing.”

We’ve arrived. Content shock is here.

But here’s the good news:

Taking another look at the McKinsey & Co pie chart above (right hand side) that people DO trust word of mouth.  

But, let’s be clear, “word of mouth” is a broad term and can mean a number of things, including:

Online reviews as seen on marketplace platforms like Amazon.com and YelpFriends and neighbors … when they recommend something to youAuthorities … authors and consultantsAnd online influencers … social media personalities including celebrities, bloggers (micro influencers), thought leaders and more.