Business wise, a brand would benefit more from working with a thought leader, who has 5000 real and engaged followers, who could become real and paying 5000 customers, than a buzzword thrower with 20k-50k followers (or more) who are only following thanks to herd behavior and who are not likely to pay for a product or a service. Real thought leaders *care* and make a point to be knowledgeable about the topics they cover.
As with most things in life and business, advertising’s KPI is ROI. There’s a numerator and a denominator therein, but you only discussed the “Return” part of the equation (the numerator) throughout your article — with complete disregard for the “Investment” (denominator).
Theoretically, you get what you pay for. If influencer marketing generates weak yield, then the cost of said marketing should get disinflated… and empirically, influencer marketing is relatively cheaper than direct/targeted/performance-based campaigns!
Now, you could’ve evaluated whether or not influencer marketing is still mispriced (i.e. expensive) relative to other genres, but that’s not what you did here. That’d be an interesting article if you’re up to the challenge, and ironically I think that’d be more emblematic of the “thought leadership” expertise you hold in such regard — as opposed to the “influencer” who pursuades his/her audience “to like or dislike, to adopt or ban, to buy or skip buying, products and services” by leveraging his/her “reach” and “herd behavior”.
By no means do I want this to come off like a takedown. Rather, I’m a practitioner who’s trying to tap your thought leadership, as you yourself are seemingly a “#Marketing Expert” with enough knowledge in this domain to objectively quantify the arbitrage.