From the Influencers

Are Your Influencers Trustworthy?

December 14, 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you know that influencer marketing is one of the best ways to reach audiences. People love influencers for a variety of reasons—they look like them, they like that particular celebrity, they find them trustworthy and authentic, etc. The point of influencer marketing is that it’s real people connecting with real people and recommending a product. This tactic is much more successful than a company simply telling consumers to buy its product. Customers believe what other users have to say much more than they believe companies, because influencers are less likely to lie to them.

Well, what if that trust is taken away? The most successful influencers are genuine in their posts, which is what gains them so much popularity. This has become more of a problem ever since the FTC released guidelines for influencer marketing that require influencers to state in the caption when a post is sponsored. Now, viewers who thought an influencer genuinely liked a brand and were freely promoting it are starting to realize that that may not be the case.

In fact, Bloglovin’, a lifestyle social discovery platform, found in a study that 61 percent of women won’t engage with an influencer’s sponsored post if it doesn’t feel genuine. Meanwhile, 36 percent of women won’t engage because they know the post is paid for by a brand. Those are some big percentages, and they could spell disaster for influencer marketing.

So what is a brand to do? The same study found that 53 percent of women need some kind of trusting connection with an influencer, while 32 percent said that that connection needs to be emotional. These women want to feel connected to influencers and their lives outside of social media. For instance, an influencer who shows that she is a young mother and posts pictures of her kids alongside the sponsored ads will likely form an emotional connection with other young moms. These young women will listen to what the influencer has to say because she’s going through the same life events as them.

What an influencer posts alongside the sponsored ads makes a big difference in how trustworthy they are. Case in point, 52 percent of women reported that inconsistent caption writing on a feed makes sponsored content feel fake. Plus, if the sponsored content is totally unrelated to what that person usually posts, 38 percent find the influencer less trustworthy. Essentially, if a woman runs an Instagram page dedicated to trying new foods, it’s probably not a good idea for her to randomly start posting sponsored ads about weight loss pills. That would put off a good amount of consumers and potentially ruin her reputation as an authentic, trustworthy person.

All in all, influencer marketing can make or break a brand. As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Here, brands and influencers alike have the combined power to introduce consumers to great new products. However, they also have the responsibility of not bombarding viewers with content that is forced and unauthentic. So, think wisely about how to implement this particular marketing strategy.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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