It’s a story that any marketer could have anticipated would come up one day, given all the news lately about influencers purchasing followers and engagement.

An 18-year-old influencer named Arii recently announced that she failed to sell 36 shirts (later clarified as 36 of each of her seven items – a total of 252 units) – she needed to sell a certain number to launch her clothing line.

The reason this made headlines is that Arii has over 2.6 million followers.

With that many followers, all it would have taken to hit the quota is one purchase for every 10,285 followers.

The fact that she wasn’t able to achieve this raised more than a few eyebrows in the marketing community.

So what are the lessons of this story for today’s marketers?

Lesson #1: Total followers isn’t the only metric that matters.

The phrase “quality over quantity” is as true in influencer marketing as anywhere else. It’s not enough to know that an influencer has millions of followers; that’s no guarantee that you’ll achieve the results you’re after.

Followers could be fake, bought, bots, or simply entirely uninterested in your product: none of which will help you achieve your sales or engagement targets.

Instead of only looking at total followers, take a look at other metrics that give a better indication of the quality of an influencer’s follower base.

Look at engagement rates – especially on previous sponsored posts – as well as the influencer’s ability to sell, if that data is available. You can try reaching out to previous sponsors and ask about their experience.

Those metrics will give you a much better indication of the quality of the influencer’s audience, which is much more important than the quantity.

Lesson #2: Know your influencer’s audience.

Once you’ve weeded out the fake accounts and are left with real followers, it’s important to look closely at those followers and determine whether they represent that audience you’re trying to reach with your message.

Start with the demographics – what sorts of people are interested in what the influencer has to say? Do they match your target audience?

For example, you wouldn’t work with a mummy blogger focused on producing content about how to be a good parent to promote your men’s health supplements.

In Arii’s case, it’s entirely possible that the vast majority of her followers represented an audience to which her prospective product line was ill-suited.

Knowing your influencer’s audience goes beyond simple demographics, as well. It’s also important to look at the way they engage with the influencer’s content. Do they like and comment, or are most of them just lurkers who view the post and move on? Are they inclined to make purchases through the channel, or do they simply scroll to the next post?

Arii may not have known her audience well enough to sell 252 units; while that may seem inconceivable, the lesson is clear. Knowing your audience is a key element of the influencer selection process that marketers skip over at their own risk.

Lesson #3: Work with your influencers on content creation.

One of the things many marketers were quick to point out about Arii’s failure is that she only published two posts promoting her clothing line, and she didn’t even wear her own products in her other photos.

The lesson marketers can take from this is that it’s important to work with your influencers to craft content that is both on-topic and on-brand.

It will do you no good if your influencer briefly mentions your brand, but then goes on to tell a completely irrelevant story in their post. Likewise, it would be a big miss for your influencer to focus on the wrong features (or worse, ones that aren’t even valid), which is why it’s critical that you take an active role in reviewing and approving their post before they publish.


Influencer marketing isn’t a silver bullet that will automatically hit all your sales targets. It requires the same careful planning and selection process as any other channel you’d build your brand message into.

As Arii’s story clearly demonstrates, not all influencers (and their audiences) are created equal, and the priority should be to find not only the ones whose brands align with your own, but also the ones who are capable of speaking about your brand in a way that inspires the kind of action you’re looking to drive with your audience.