• Collective Bias

Brands Have a Role in Keeping Influencers Real - and Relevant

Consumers don’t go online to look at ads. In fact, according to one study by DISM, 64% of consumers consider ads to be annoying and use ad-blockers to spare themselves from the seeming deluge of pop-ups. Should marketers be worried that influencer advertising will ultimately share the same fate?

As brands try to exert more control over influencer messaging in a misguided effort to “protect” their increasing influencer marketing spend, there is a real possibility that this still-trusted form of promotion could be corrupted and earn the same consumer disdain. The only way for brands to prevent this from happening is to ensure that everything they do in this marketing sphere is authentic.

With brands’ collective influencer marketing spend predicted to surpass $10 billion in 2020, it’s more important than ever that marketers and influencers understand the importance of authenticity -- and commit to delivering it without fail. Authenticity is something consumers crave and if they don’t get it, they’ll walk. A Stakla survey found that 20% of consumers have unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic.

Influencers (and brands) cannot compromise.

Trust is the sacred currency of influencers, but as highly-publicized instances of fraud continue to mar consumer perception, consumer trust in influencers -- and their sponsoring brands -- is suffering. Therefore, the most important thing an influencer can do to protect themselves -- and their sponsoring brands -- is to promote products with which they have real experience and that they genuinely believe will benefit their audience.

Gone are the days when an influencer could promote a different product every other day without their audience knowing or caring. Consumers are more aware of #sponcon than ever before and are quick to call out influencers if they perceive that they're simply peddling products. Followers will notice when an influencer raves about a shampoo they’ve used “forever” and then suddenly begins promoting another; they expect influencers to promote only those products they actually like and use.

Authenticity and promotion are not mutually exclusive.

Many of those less familiar with influencer marketing often question whether it’s possible for influencers to be authentic while working to promote and sell a product. The answer is, of course, “yes!” Far and away, the most successful brand-influencer partnerships develop when the content creator for a particular campaign is already a brand loyalist and/or a user of the product they’ve been selected to help promote.

Successful influencers build an audience by demonstrating a consistent perspective and delivering content that consistently resonates with their followers. So, when influencers are asked to promote products outside of their “norm” and veer from that consistency they risk losing their current followers and, worse still, their future influence.

If it occurs too often that an influencer promotes products that don’t align with their personal brand, audience engagement and trust is going to drop off significantly. Nothing will erode an influencer’s impact with their audience faster than a perceived lack of authenticity. And sponsoring this content won’t do anything good for the brand, either.

Freedom of expression must be foremost.

In order for brands to successfully employ influencer marketing to engage and activate shoppers, they must allow influencers the creative freedom to talk about products in ways that will appeal to their audiences and resonate as genuine. By letting influencers be themselves and deliver messaging that is as original as it is authentic, marketers are positioning their campaigns for success.

Brands need to remember that they are using (real) people to talk to other (real) people about their products and do everything they can to ensure that their message is“real” as well. If marketers can do that, then brands going to get much better performance from content -- and campaigns.