I’ve seen a ton of drama based around content creators and crypto influencers doing paid promotions and content about various/random Crypto and NFT projects.
Before I begin, I wanted to clarify that these are just my personal thoughts on the topic, while trying to remain subjective. This is not an attack on any content creators, more so just commenting on what I’ve seen in the space. Please read the entire thing before judging.
A little bit on the [d]evolution of influencer marketing
You know the saying “Crypto is the wild west”? Well it’s true, and similar to the wild west, there is a lot of money and greed (perhaps “hunger” is a softer word for it) coming into the space – and people are looking for the quickest way to “find the proverbial gold nuggets”.
The most effective way to find these nuggets was to scour the internet for articles and videos made by knowledgeable people, but those resources have [d]evolved in the last decade, heavily influenced by shady practices from all sorts of industries.
Somewhere along the line, content creators realized that not only could they make money from crypto, but that they could also make money by pumping (and coincidentally dumping) cryptos when mentioning them in their content, AND they could make money by getting paid to talk about cryptos by those projects’ teams.
Over time, this model [d]evolved further into the beast that it is today; you have “content creators” who’s sole purpose is to hype and shill projects to their followers. Using shady tactics like buying fake followers and flashing stacks of money to make them seem more competent and trustworthy at identifying projects that will make money (In fact, TIME has an awesome article on how the crypto scams evolved over time, if you’re interested in learning more about it).
Side note: I’ve seen quite a few of these channels even say the exact same stuff about the exact same projects, which leads me to believe that they didn’t even bother researching the project themselves – and instead just focus on reading the script (or bullet points) that they were given by the project.
Now, Legally, the rules for doing paid/promotional content are clear: you have to disclose that it’s paid promotional content, but on top of that, I’ve seen many disclose paid promotions but not actually do any due diligence when it comes to the project(s) they’re promoting.
Many of these Channels/Content Creators not only don’t disclose that content may be promotional, but even go so far as to deny the fact that it’s a paid promotion (to make it seem more trustworthy). Some of the more “mindful” content creators might disclose that content is a paid promotion, but will not do any other due diligence on whatever it is they’re promoting, which currently falls into a grey area legally – one that I think we’ll see some clarification on soon, as it essentially provides a level of authenticity and implies a level of trust in a project that is forwarded on to the consumers of the content.
Many content creators that do this are banking on the idea that they’re small fish in a big pond, and that regulation may come in the future, but that they should be able to get away with it for now.
And this is what fuels the [d]evolution of the tactics used and gives influencer marketing a bad name.
My Thoughts on Whether Influencer Marketing Should Be Used
Ok, again, this is just my opinion on the topic.
As much as I hate how the space has [d]evolved over the last few years, there’s one other aspect that I hadn’t mentioned above: This strategy is an effective one. And not only effective, but also much more cost-effective than traditional means of marketing a project. And it’s for these reasons that this tactic has become so abused by meme coins, rug pulls, and shady/scammy projects, it’s definitely something that both, Influencers and their customers (crypto/NFT projects) should approach with caution and care.
Today, influencer marketing is mostly frowned upon by “more serious” entities. However, I think that instead of completely dismissing influencer marketing, it should be approached more tactically – as it could benefit both sides; allowing content creators to more easily monetize their channels/content, while allowing companies to gain exposure for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.
More specifically, in the crypto/NFT space, influencer marketing is used so often by a variety of different entities that it’s a necessary evil – one simply cannot compete (exposure wise) at the same level without partaking in the practice.
The one caveat to this (and something that consumers should make a push to demand) would be that content creators and influencers should be more careful about who they work with because of the simple fact that their followers (aka supporters) are on the receiving end of the content – and will likely trust whatever they say. And on the other side of this argument, the companies looking to partner with content creators should be much more mindful of the previous types of projects that were promoted by this creator/channel.
Personally, I’m not big on paid content, however, if a project that I believe in (and love) were to reach out to me, I would most likely not turn it down. After all, getting paid to talk about a project you’re passionate about is almost a no-brainer. And on the flip side, if a company partners with someone who’s content/audience is more aligned with their product, then that campaign would be much more successful and effective.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with trying to monetize your channel, and there’s nothing wrong with marketing agreements between decent content creators and solid projects that are trying to gain exposure, but as this wedge gets driven deeper and deeper (for the abovementioned reasons) between the two, I think we will continue seeing a degradation of both, the efficiency and trust (from all sides) of this tactic.
TLDR: I think that influencer marketing is a necessary evil in today’s space, but because of how widely this tactic is used by all sorts of different entities, both sides in these agreements should be much more tactical in their decisions on who to partner with.