Influencer Fatigue: On Mental Strain and Inauthenticity
Wed, April 21, 2021

Influencer Fatigue: On Mental Strain and Inauthenticity

When you look at an influencer’s social media account, it can appear lavish to the average viewer, however, it can also mean an unstable income and performance vulnerability / Photo by: Diego Cervo via Shutterstock


When you look at an influencer’s social media account, it can appear lavish to the average viewer, however, it can also mean an unstable income and performance vulnerability, said Georgina Cockaday of ClickOn, a creative production platform. Hence, the need for sponsorship can become all-consuming for influencers. Influencers challenged the concept of “celebrity,” prompting  advertisers and agencies to “rethink how and with whom they spend their marketing budget.” 

The increased demand for authentic content entails that the influencer industry is becoming more saturated. So, who is likely to experience influencer fatigue first? Is it the consumers, brands, or the influencers themselves. Or is it all three? Digital marketing expert in New York Jasmine Sandler said, “As influencer marketing moves’s going to be about fostering a greater sense of 'trust and credibility' between brands and consumers.” 

The Saturated, Evolving Market of the Influencer Sphere

Influencer marketing is forecasted to become a $15 billion business by 2022, with brands expressing their eagerness to spend wads of cash on the next Kim Kardashian, wrote Sam Blum of BBC Worklife, a reader’s global guide to getting ahead in life. Despite that, companies are cautious about selecting influencer talent, said Karen Doolittle, social media director at a Los Angeles-based advertising firm. 

There are also a few high-profile cases of influencer fraud when influencers artificially boosted the reach of their accounts or fabricated personal narratives. These cases helped the audience become “more shrewd and discerning,” Doolittle added. Further, there is now a “hesitancy and almost mistrust on behalf of both consumers and brands” with regard to influencers. For instance, one PR agency in Australia dropped influencers earlier this year as influencer campaigns were too costly and often delivered false or misleading metrics about brands’ online reach. 

The company even notice that influencers were liking and commenting on each other’s posts to boost their performance, albeit artificially. However, brands are still willing to invest in influencers with huge followings. Since the market is oversaturated and competitive, a steady flow of influencer gigs will be harder to come by, Doolittle noted.  This prompts some influencers to aks themselves if the hustle is worth the limited payoff. 

Performance Vulnerability 

29-year-old Brianna Madia currently lives the #vanlife, representing the epitome of a millennial influencer. She documents her travels through the desert with her husband and two dogs. Madia said she has grown tired of being in servitude to her “285,000” bosses. She admitted that she dreams of deleting her Instagram account. 

She has issues with “vulnerability porn,” and it is something that her audience demands, saying, "How vulnerable can you be? What piece of information can I expose about myself? How wide can I rip my chest open for all of these people?” 

Jessica Zollman can relate to this concept of performance vulnerability. She added that there’s a fine line between relatable truthfulness and trading vulnerability for audience engagement. Meanwhile, fans can quickly criticize an influencer if their post doesn’t meet their standards. Zollman stated, “It can sometimes feel like [fans] are waiting for people they admire or look up to to publicly fail for entertainment.”

Aside from that, influencers are also endorsing products they might never use, which is something their audience can notice and denounce. Madia recounted she was asked to endorse various products she would never use like tasers, diet pills, and “pink handguns designed for women on the go.” She can decline misguided pitches since her husband earns a steady paycheck. 

However, not all influencers are given that opportunity, so if Madia won’t endorse the product, someone else will. Cases similar to Madia’s create a greater possibility of creating inauthentic influencer campaigns considering that brands are farming their products out to even more influencers. 

Is There Any Way to Reduce Inauthenticity and Mental Fatigue? 

Brands have to remember that influencers are more than just endorsers of products and services. They are content creators, publishers, video editors, photographers, advertisers, and more. Brands should also take note that each influencer has their own voice and should underscore authenticity. Hence, brands should take the time to find an influencer with a “correct voice.” 

Moreover, authenticity is something the audience will resonate with. Audiences nowadays are not passive, as they are now actively engaging with each other and brands while looking for unique, valuable, and authentic content. This will serve as their basis to form communities based on shared interests and beliefs. 

There is no shortcut to authenticity. If influencers and brands respect this and their relationship, both parties (or even the audience) should not have to suffer from influencer fatigue. Memorable brand connections are established when consumers experience valuable content “that rings true.” Therefore, influencer marketing provides a beneficial method in achieving this when campaigns are done authentically and uniquely. 

Overall, consumers are tired of seeing inauthentic posts from influencers. Even influencers themselves are mentally drained of creating inauthentic content or making themselves vulnerable in exchange for likes. Therefore, it is important for brands to find the right influencer that matches their story and core values. 

Even influencers themselves are mentally drained of creating inauthentic content or making themselves vulnerable in exchange for likes / Photo by: fizkes via Shutterstock