Busting myths about the legitimacy of Influencer Marketing
Fact: Brands are building their businesses around influencer marketing and the strategy is successfully selling product. Swimwear brand Triangl, the Daniel Wellington watch range, beauty brand Frank Body and teeth whitening product HiSmile credit their victory to influencer marketing.
Fact: Influencers are leaving their day jobs to pursue a career as an influencer and run their own business, a job that encompasses a number of roles including photographer, project manager, social media marketer, writer, advertiser and publisher. It’s a legitimate career pathway and is not just about taking random snaps.
Fiction: There is no credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing. It’s a scam.
The current scrutiny around credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing mean that marketers, the media and consumers are demanding more of the influencer marketing space, which is actually a good thing for an industry that is often described as the Wild Wild West. There is a demand for influencer marketing to be more transparent, which will ultimately force the space to become more mature and driven by industry standards.
Credibility, trust and authenticity will always reign supreme in influencer marketing and those who compromise that, will not be around for long. It’s up to us, as leaders in the influencer marketing space, to educate brands and marketers, as well as influencers, on industry best practices and how to come out on top. So, how important is credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing? The answer is, it’s critical. Absolutely critical.
But the responsibility is not just on influencers.
Brands need to recognise that they play a role too. Quite often, we see brands who are new to influencer marketing approach their campaign with unrealistic expectations - which often result in the mistaken perspective that influencer marketing is unreliable. For example, in our experience we know that a campaign with a $5,000 budget is unlikely to generate 10,000 authentic, and valuable, new Instagram followers. Understanding this, and leveraging the guidance of influencer marketing experts (like Scrunch) who have experience in the area will help your campaign succeed.
We know that brands and influencers must both take responsibility when it comes to credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing. Why, and more importantly, how? Read on…
Why is it important to be credible, trusted and authentic?
We recently spoke about influencers being a legitimate marketing and advertising channel and that they deserve to be paid for their contribution. Credibility, authenticity and trust are absolutely critical if you call yourself an influencer, and every single decision should be made with these qualities in mind, from the content you create and the brands you work with to how you treat your audience and engage with them.
You are responsible for being a credible, authentic and trusted influencer and you need to be proactive to maintain your credibility, authenticity and trust. Influencers who are happy to make compromises, won’t have longevity in this cut-throat industry where competition seems to be popping up every day. The influencers who do the right thing, and have always done the right thing, will win in the long run.
How to ensure you are credible, trusted and authentic?
Credibility, Authenticity and trust is a conscious decision and you need to be proactive - it doesn’t just come naturally and it is not a given. Here are some things you can do to maintain these qualities in your work:
- Audit your followers and block ghost accounts - this doesn’t mean you have to have your profile on private and under lock and key, but you do need to keep an eye on your organic follower growth and understand who is following you and why.
- Look at the engagements on your posts - are they authentic and relevant. If you have a lot of generic comments like “love this shot” or “looks great” scrutinise them. Did a human post that, or did a bot? If it’s a bot, then delete the comment and block the user. Likewise if a comment is a single emoji, or a collective of emojis.
- Limit your sponsored posts and ensure that every piece of content is not sponsored. That’s not to say sponsored posts are bad, but too many can put people off.
- Learn to say no, even if it means you miss out on a job. Prioritise authenticity, credibility and trust over money.
- Balance branded content with organic content, keep a consistent theme and ensure collaborate align with your personal brand as well as your audience.
- Don’t be wooed by dollar signs. Ever.
- Focus on creating incredible content first and foremost.
- Engage with your community -they follow you because they like you and the trust you, so show them how much they are valued. Without them, you wouldn’t be doing what you are doing.
- Avoid spammy and generic hashtags at all costs - #likeforlike #followforfollow #love #cute…. You get the gist.
- It should be a given, but do not, under any circumstances, purchase followers or engagement.
- Add value to your community via high quality content.
- Show your personality and have a genuine tone of voice that is not too scripted or polished.
Why is it important to be credible, trustworthy and authentic in influencer marketing?
The success of marketing and advertising lies in the hands of consumers and how much they are influenced by a piece of marketing collateral. The more trust they have in a brand and a content distributor, the more likely they are to react as desired - it all comes down to consumer trust. You don’t however just “get” consumer trust. It is something that comes from a combination of strategy and planning as well as credibility, trust and authenticity. And it doesn’t happen overnight.
The same goes for influencer marketing, but the responsibility to maintain credibility, trust and authenticity is in the hands of all stakeholders, not just the influencers.
Brands and marketers have a responsibility to do their research and base all partnerships on credibility, trust and authenticity. Use credible platforms and experts (hello Scrunch!) that know their stuff so you can understand who the influencer is, what they value, the demographics and psychographics of their audience and their content style. Do your research, weed out the sh*t and help the industry as a whole move past the credibility crisis.
Part of that also means that brands and marketers need to change their mindset on what metrics are most important and what authenticity actually means. Followers do not trump all, and followers do not equal credibility. We find the most important thing on a brand’s mind is reach, but actually, the most important thing should be finding people who authentically align with the brand and structuring a strategy around them. Instead, brands get stuck prioritising followers and then try to make it all seem authentic. If this sounds like you, move away from prioritising follower count and base your decisions on deeper analytics like our audience analysis.
How to tell if an influencer is credible, trusted and authentic?
- Is every post sponsored by a different brand?
- Is their content style blatant product shots or styled photography shoots?
- Is there a creative element in their content?
- Do they have qualifications that support their content category? For example, is a fashion influencer also a professional stylist, or is a health food influencer a qualified nutritionist?
- Are their metrics as a whole, consistently good? Don’t just look at once metric to determine this, you need to look at all of the data for a holistic view on the influencer - consider average engagement rate, post engagement rate, reach, impressions, engagements, audience analysis, follower growth rate, content aesthetic, posting frequency and tone of voice as a starting point.
And some important things to remember:
- Understand that ghost accounts exist, and it might not always be the influencers doing if you see a comment on one of their posts that looks like a bot. Create a full picture and do your research before pointing fingers.
- Ensure that the influencer and their audience aligns with your brand and your target audience. If there is no alignment, there is no collaboration.
How Scrunch is tackling credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing
Trust is one of the core values that we have as a team here at Scrunch, so it is no surprise that we are leading the race in researching new ways to identify, track and measure credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing. Our Product Roadmap is filled with exciting additions to the Scrunch platform, changes which you will see being rolled out in the coming weeks and months. For now, whether you are a brand or an influencer, we lift the tide for everyone by doing the right thing when it comes to credibility, trust and authenticity through the Scrunch platform, a team of expert campaign managers and a data-driven approach to influencer marketing.
The cowboy marketers and fraudulent influencers who have ignited the conversation about credibility, trust and authenticity in influencer marketing have actually done us all a favour. They have forced influencer marketing to mature and accountable. Scrunch is excited to be at the forefront of this emerging industry, not only creating the software to make influencer marketing more credible, trustworthy and authentic, but also in setting the standards to which others will need to rise.