Authenticity is a term that pollutes our industry, but the rise in influencer marketing has the power to move people through fresh and genuine content, if responsibility is taken by brands and influencers to do so authentically.
- Influencer marketing has been held under continuous scrutiny, with 47% of consumers feeling fatigued by repetitive influencer content.
- Influencer content is ridiculed for both its lack of evidence behind claims and the failure to correctly label paid-for posts - 61% of consumers believe that brands are failing to be transparent about how they are using influencers to promote their products online.
- Consumers’ patience with social influencers is wavering, only 8% of global Internet users believe that the bulk of information shared on social media is true - consumers are searching for more authentic content from brands.
“People are searching for intimacy and the manner in which [brands] work with influencers is not just ‘chuck me a grand and I will say something nice about your product’.” James Kirkham, chief business officer, Copa90
There is no denying that influencer marketing has a large presence in the world of marketing, however, in the last decade, the evolution of social media has brought an entirely new meaning to the concept. To an extent it has rewritten the rules and below, we will iron out what is fact and what is fiction when people first look at influencer marketing.
- Brands are recognising the opportunity that comes from using influencers and are now starting to mould their business around influencer marketing - they can quantifiably see that this developed strategy is successfully promoting and selling their product/ service. Brands like the swimwear range Triangl, the Daniel Wellington watch business and teeth whitening product HiSmile are pioneers for this, crediting their success to influencer marketing.
- The role ‘influencer’ is now a legitimate career path, encompassing several skills and roles including photographer, project manager, social media marketer, writer, and advertiser.
- There is no credibility, trust, and authenticity in influencer marketing.
What does this mean?
The lack of trust that surrounds influencer marketing means both marketers and consumers are actually demanding and expecting more from this strategy. This can be seen as a positive outcome as it means the industry should always be innovating and trying to meet these standards in place. If there is a demand for influencer marketing to be more transparent, this will ultimately become a reality and create a space that is more driven by these new industry standards.
Trust and authenticity will always be a priority in influencer marketing and those brands who do not abide by this will not stand the test of time. So, when the question of the importance of authenticity and trust in influencer marketing arises. The answer will always be, crucial, and here’s why.
Firstly, if authenticity is not present, both brands will be at risk. The very definition of influencer marketing is a partnership between a brand and a prominent member of a particular community. Therefore, by default, when working together both brands are on the line. Both the brand and influencer must be aware that every move they make can have consequences to their image and respective following.
Secondly, whether the business is a brick and mortar shop, tech company or non-profit organisation, it will require altering the content marketing strategy. When considering online businesses, for example, the addition of an influencer marketing strategy will add a ‘human element’ to a normally tool-based marketing approach. The use of an influencer has the potential to add a new dimension to a brand’s content and to ensure this remains to a high level of authenticity, communication should be faultless between brand and influencer.
Lastly, when looking at the big picture of what influencer marketing can achieve, the end goal is ultimately to promote the businesses branded content to a new or larger community. Here, reach and trust will be the main elements that separate sales and influencer marketing. The more reach gained, the more trust hangs in the balance. In general, consumers are very aware of when they are being sold to, and according to Havas Media, only 22% of people genuinely trust brands. On the other hand, it was found that 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations for products they are considering purchasing. This means that consumers are quicker to trust a valued member of their community - as seen in both personal relationships and brand-consumer relationships, they are built and based on trust and once this is lost, it can be difficult to regain.
Ultimately, authenticity is what makes an influencer influential to a community and together, brands and influencers should take responsibility for this so that influencer marketing will become a space moulded by these new industry standards.