When you're just too popular


By David Ryan


There’s such a thing as being too popular.

Personally it’s something I’ve always struggled with, but it turns out it is also an ominous sign to any aspiring social media influencer.

Nowadays it is extremely rare that these platforms aren’t mentioned in a creative brief or, even more recently, become the lead channel for many marketing activations. Influencers generate a massive return for companies by connecting brands to individuals in a personal and powerful way. One article recently called it the digital version of word-of-mouth. These endorsements are considered trustworthy, authoritative and are becoming even more effective than traditional go-to channels.

However, brands should be aware that once an influencer reaches a critical mass of followers (around 100,000), audience engagement actually begins to decline.

Now this could be for all sorts of reasons, but here are a few of the most popular:

Over publicity
Their face is literally everywhere you turn. So much so they seem to follow you around like a weird stalker… only they’re trying to sell you a contouring kit!

Obvious paid sponsorship endorsements
What I like to call the ‘Reality star Z-list special’, nothing says ‘I’m getting paid for this’ more than awkwardly holding the product while showing how white your teeth are now.

Major image changes, bragging that you’ve ‘Made it’ or, another of my favourites, ‘Waving cash like a G’ is a major turn off for people that have been following them since they were a nobody.

Whatever the reason, one common thread throughout is being relatable. The deeper the relationship with the following, the more powerful the influencer. This is why smaller, niche influencers can be more effective than the ‘bigger’ influencers. These are real people with real stories and real content.

Whilst there will always be a place for the Zoella’s of this world, influencer marketing is all about engagement. Better engagement means a higher ROI, greater retention, and deeper connections.

An article on Instagram engagement rates analysed the differences in performance YOY based on a number of activations and showed lifts in engagement with a lower volume of followers . Influencers with less than 2,000 fans had an 151% higher lift than influencers with over 100,000 fans, making them much more cost-effective.  This means you can have multiple influencers, rather than blowing your budget on one big name – Cash Back!

Source: smartinsights.com

Source: smartinsights.com


As a brand, the decision must be whether you would rather an intimate brand building relationship with your consumer, or an association with a big hitter who can achieve scale through mass awareness.

Both have a time and a place, but here at The Brave Few we believe striking up real human connections, relevant to people’s lives, delivers deeper engagement and creates brand relationships that last. Influencer marketing is just one of the many ways these connections come to life but the right influencer, at the right time for the right audience can propel the right brand to greatness.

So embrace the change and change the game to work for you. Be brave.


Claire Scott