Why Scott Disick’s Instagram Fail is Everything Wrong with Influencer Marketing

Instagram Failure and Influencer Marketing

Admit it, you love to hate Scott Disick. From his uncanny ability to compliment himself to the fact that he’s actually famous for no reason, Scott Disick probably holds a special place in everyone’s heart. While it probably pains you to even talk about him–because that’s what his publicist wants you to do–it’s also an outlet for some comic relief, right? As a marketer, my schedule is jam-packed daily…it’s hard to take a moment and turn my brain off. Well, time spent thinking about Scott Disick helps me do just that. And let me tell you, did I have a laugh-out-loud-moment when I saw his latest Instagram post go viral…and not in the way he intended.

Instagram Fail is Everything Wrong with Influencer Marketing

To quote The Skimm from earlier today, “At 4pm est, write the below’ – Part of an Instagram caption that Lord Scott Disick posted recently. It was not supposed to a part of the caption. He had one job.”

That one job was a paid endorsement by @booteak, for which the Lord himself charges up to $15,000-$20,000 per post. Which brings me to my next point, the very reason you clicked on the headline of this article:

Scott Disick’s Instagram blunder is a perfect example of everything wrong with influencer marketing. Brands have become disconnected from target audiences, so they turn to influencers because they’ve earned the trust of their communities as opinion leaders. These communities trusts their opinion based on the authority they have earned. When I make purchase decisions based on influencers, it’s because I trust their opinion. If I see a post from an influencer, which is denoted with #ad or #sponsor, I’m far less likely to purchase the item. That’s because I can tell the brand is behind the post. And as the consumer…I choose to ignore the brand. As a consumer, I want authentic influence instead.

These days the term “influencer marketing” is tossed around more often than tortillas at San Francisco’s legendary Bay to Breakers annual footrace. And it’s confusing. The more definitions I read about influencer marketing, the more I realize how diluted the term has become. If you think influencer marketing is all about brands paying big name “celebrities” like Lord Disick, then you’re just rebranding an endorsement.

Here are a few reasons why this poor representation of influencer marketing is doomed for failure:

  • Celebrities are still human and humans make mistakes.

Besides the fact that failure to disclose a paid ad is illegal, you never know when the celebrity you’ve paid is going to misunderstand your instructions and drop the ball. Case in point…Scott Disick’s epic instagram fail.

  • Consumers know an endorsement deal when they see one.

Consumers are smart and savvy. Even if our friend Scott decided to do what he was told–err, paid to do–his post is clearly an endorsement deal, right? I mean, he’s standing there, looking pretty excited (read: let’s just get this over with) about a container of protein powder. It’s obviously product placement. Consumers aren’t stupid, this doesn’t fool anyone. (Even his fans!)

  • Brands overpay influencers for reach because numbers are everything.

The notion that brands should pay influencers simply because they have a large following is wrong. The power of influencers is within their ability to inspire a change in behavior or to take action. Having an influencer blast your message out to their millions of followers guarantees one thing: noise (not impact). Scott Disick charges up to 20k per Instagram post because he reaches 16M people. Reach data by itself isn’t going to help your brand reach the right people because it’s easier for consumers to tune it out.

  • Influencers relying on endorsement deals won’t be influential much longer.

Ok, sure, Scott Disick’s ability to bring in the big bucks based on his reach probably will not hinder his “influence”, if we’re even going to call it that. He’s doing fine either way. But for the opinion shapers out there, these influencers are influential because of the trust they’ve built within their community–not the size of their audience. For influencers, authority is their currency and they will quickly lose it on paid endorsement deals. True influencers will value their community over sponsorships.

Finally, if not most importantly, there’s an influencer-marketing-backlash happening on social media. Whether or not any of the points shared above strike a chord with you, you probably still lack a clear understanding of influencer marketing.

Earlier this week, Dom Burch, senior director, marketing innovation and new revenue at Asda, published an opinion piece, “Is it time to call bullshit on influencer marketing?”. Just as I’ve stressed throughout this post, Burch also highlights the confusion among the practice of influencer marketing. He defines influencer marketing as, “the latest fad in the never-ending pursuit of finding a shortcut.” And I can’t say I disagree. Marketers today are at a loss, looking for a quick fix to put their brand back on the map. The type of influencer marketing that looks like a shortcut will never pay off in the long term. Although Burch seems to care less about influencer marketing, he offers some helpful advice for brands trying to find their way. Start with why.

  • Why are you wanting to partner with someone else rather than going directly to your audience?
  • What is the aim? What are you trying to achieve?
  • And ultimately how will you measure success?

Burch illustrates how Asda found success within the realm of YouTube vloggers, after years of trying and failing to connect with an audience on that platform. The point he makes that catches my eye, “We were benefiting from the relationship they’d spent years building with their audience. And if we did our homework, we would ensure their audience overlapped ours.”

The very reason influencer marketing has lost its way is because practitioners lack the relationship piece. Paying someone like Scott Disick to endorse your protein powder is not influencer marketing. It’s a shortcut. Dom Burch balks at marketers looking for the easy way out. Is he wrong? Influencer marketing done the right way does not include shortcuts. Influencers are influential because of the relationship they’ve built within their communities. There is a missed opportunity for brands to look beyond the transactional use case and build relationships to create advocates. So while there is a ton wrong with influencer marketing…there’s one way to do it right. How will you go about influencer marketing? Do you believe there is value in building relationships with influencers instead of paying them for a product endorsement? Did you text your BFF “LOL” when you saw Scott Disick’s post? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Dom Burch

    Great piece, and thanks for the mention. I agree with you entirely. Relationships over tactical endorsements any day of the week. Strategic partnerships that make sense to the audience and are authentic. Takes time to build trust on both sides to make it work, but when it does the result is plain to see.

    • Tatiana Beale

      Thanks for your feedback, Dom. The piece you wrote for The Drum outlined the problem perfectly. We aim to educate the space and help marketers understand the benefit of strategic commitments over one-off campaigns when it comes to influencer marketing. Relationships are key to survival!

  • I’ve posted my own article on everything that could be right with influencer marketing.


    Marketers and brands need to implement it as part of a long term plan or nothing will save them from the disasters that happen due to shoddy strategy.