Just as brands used celebrity endorsers in traditional media, digital marketing has seen a sharp rise in social media influencers. In PR, most brands and content creators are leveraging influencers without taking into consideration how limited this approach can really be.

This is all new, so brands and influencers can’t be blamed for not being completely aware of the limitations of what is only now being created. In reality, any relationship that is built on a reaction is going to have its own challenges and sometimes even failures. And in truth there’s nothing wrong with working with opinion makers and influencers to reach consumers via ideas, creative initiatives, PR, and different communication tools. It’s just that an over-reliance on influencers is limiting to how we communicate with the public, and as a result, brands and communication professionals are losing their authenticity and ability to connect with basic human needs.

We should look at the past 10 years as a learning curve. While PR is still preserving the concept of building public opinion through endorsement, it hasn’t yet succeeded in building an authentic relationship with influencers. Now some people with a lot of followers are suddenly considered to have the power to influence purchasing decisions and behaviors, and our industry has committed itself to this way of thinking in the absence of more meaningful methodologies.

We must be creative in our approach to connecting with consumers, but does our creativity only lie in hands of choosing the ‘right’ niche influencers for a specific brand? We should build our understanding in how influencers will contribute to the sustainability of our platforms and ideas.  More importantly, we should be more mindful in how we use influencer management to gain much deeper human interactions. After all, communication is two-way street.

It is really time to get back to the values of the industry within PR and the people we touch and connect with every day. With brands placing so much emphasis on their investments in influencer marketing and aiming for conversions in attracting customer engagement, it’s imperative to keep in mind how very limited the time span this attraction really is.

Merely focusing on influencers in taking our brands to the next level prevents us from exploring other creative solutions. We need to take a step back and look into how we want to influence as opposed to only looking at influencers as a main objective of selling, reaching consumers, or even expanding.

We need to change, transform, and grow the dynamic of collaborative work if we want to find a more meaningful way in teaming up with influencers. We need to be more mindful about reality and the cultural relevance these influencers are bringing in or how they’re truly benefiting both brands and consumers.

There is a barrier between brands and their public that seems to linger when brands only focus on influencers. We need to focus on reality, not just likes, comments, shares, and conversions. Our consumers are real, with real lives, real needs, and aspirations. We need to all come together and think of how we can disrupt our entire communication approach, find new ways in brainstorming, grow our creative capabilities, and consider things from an entirely different perspective. We need to find new ways to collaborate together and present consumers with transparent, honest, and open brands.

The status quo won’t be around for much longer, making it increasingly irrelevant to focus only on an influencer’s large base of followers. This generation of consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before and they understand first-hand the plethora of tools we use to grab their attention. It is time for us to determine how we want to be viewed and valued and more importantly, what kind of relationships we want to have in this hyper-connected world.