Group 4

Influencer fatigue and why traditional influencer marketing needs a reform

Digi x VICE on why the reality TV star to influencer pipeline is slowly fizzling out


Thumbnail and banner: Molly-Mae Hague

We spoke to VICE on the struggles of reality TV stars converting the attention that they receive into lucrative brand deals and a sustainable career in the influencer marketing industry.


VICE: Why do you think we’re seeing more influencers claiming to be stressed and burnt out by the job? 

Digi: Social media is a catalyst for comparison even in the brains of the everyday user; but for influencers, that comparison is tenfold. Whether it’s watching a peer become an overnight success, videos identical to their own go viral or meticulously planning content like your salary depends on it, only for it to underperform. It’s easy to see how influencers can ascend into a spiral of self-doubt fuelled by competition and comparison. 

In the saturated market, influencers fear being left behind, stagnating, living on an increasingly unstable freelance wage, and pine for the security that comes only with A-list levels of influencer fame. 

The industry has evolved. Brands and agencies now utilise tools and years of insights to identify talented influencers with invested audiences that directly translate into sales. Expectations are higher and directly measurable which can leave influencers with gaps in their metrics without brand partnerships. 

VICE: Do you think it’s become harder to have a sustainable career as an influencer? Will more people be seeking out alternative sources of income, or using their marketing skills for something other than building their personal brand?

Digi: It is harder to have a sustainable career in general. Technology advances so fast we don’t know what the future holds with many careers. Many people have side hustles or diversified streams of income, it is smart for influencers to do the same.

Due to advances in campaign reporting, and all the new influential faces popping up,it may be harder to lock in longer term partnerships 6 months or more with brands as they favour flexibility

We have seen a trend in appointing big names as Creative Directors (Molly Mae PLT) this could trickle down into mid-level and entry roles. Influencers can use their contacts and niche influence to skip a few rungs on the career ladder. Brands may seek to promote their internal culture through an influential work force. 

VICE: Why do you think that reality TV stars, in particular, seem to be struggling to command the same follower counts and lucrative brand deals as before? / Do you agree that the reality tv star to influencer pipeline is dead - what’s your analysis of this?

Digi: Audiences aren’t interested in shiny predictable cardboard cut-outs of ghosts of islanders past. Influencers relying on old formulas need to work harder to command attention. 

I don’t believe the influencer to reality tv pipeline is dead, but it does need to be resuscitated. Influencers need to drum up the right support on the show and provide value to their audiences outside of the show. Big Brother’s resurgence the defining pop culture reality tv from the 2000s may provide a new lease of life to the reality tv circuit. 

VICE: Does influencer fatigue have anything to do with this? I.e. people being tired of curated feeds and lavish displays of wealth? 

Digi: Influencers need to stand out, offer something new, but also resonate. 

I believe people are tired of some influencer's curated and tone-deaf displays of wealth but every influencer is different and we certainly are not tired of influencers as a collective. Just how film, tv, celeb culture evolves so do influencers. As long as we see people on our screens influencing will always live on, and what's popular will ebb and flow. 

VICE: Do you think more and more, tv shows will push back against the reality tv stars to influencer pipeline (when we think about Love Island banning social media etc)

Digi: If brand deals are the end goal cast members behave akin to PR-trained robots, cast your mind back to the early love island days, it was a chaotic, unfiltered, a free for all. Exactly what the TV bosses want. I do believe TV shows will push back, and find new ways of ensuring casting attracts real people wanting an experience rather than the fame that may come afterwards. 

Read the full article by Daisy Schofield here.

Contributing Fairies

  • Anna Cromie, Director of Talent and Community