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(In)authenticity in influencer marketing: Here's what to watch out for

Updated: Aug 4



Influencing is a billion-dollar business and influencers can help make or break a brand! With 81% of marketers using influencers to boost brand engagement, influencer marketing is one the hottest marketing trends. Interestingly, while the term “influencer” has been around since the mid-1600s, it wasn’t until 2016 that it got added to the dictionary and became the heavyweight job that it is today.


The degree to which influencer marketing has shaped brands, culture and consumer preferences is extraordinary and continues to vie for media attention. But just like everything else, there’s a dark side to influencer marketing that often gets swept under the carpet.


Did you know that approximately 38% of influencers resort to tactics that artificially inflate their posts’ comment numbers and likes and over 60% of influencers use artificial methods of Instagram growth?


While influencers have the power to sway target audiences through the content they put out, builds brand credibility, generate engagement and sales, brands need to know exactly what they are signing up for.


And here’s the catch!


One wrong move can result in a breach of trust and your audience loyalty vanishes. While influencers help build winning partner relationships, enrich content strategy, improve brand awareness and effectively reach target audiences, there are certain things to watch out for when synergizing with them.


For example, fake influencers who ‘buy’ followers or use inflated metrics to present post engagement can be detrimental for brands.


Inauthenticity


A striking 72% of consumers reported unfollowing influencers if they find their opinions or recommendations inauthentic. The least brands can do before partnering with influencers is finding out if the person has used their services or liked their products in the past. And the reason for this is clear! A study from Bazaarvoice reported that 47% of customers are tired of influencer content that appears inauthentic. This means that partnering with a beauty influencer to promote tech equipment comes across as not just tone-deaf, but also leads to the brand losing credibility overall.


In the US and UK, 71% of consumers will unfollow influencers if they find out they had bought fake followers. And it doesn’t just stop there. 67% of US and UK consumers will also unfollow influencers who do not make it clear which posts are paid advertisements and which are not.


Morality


While influencers are human and are liable to make mistakes, some are overly problematic and prove to be dangerous investments. Brands need to do their homework and be cognizant of who they’re investing in. If the influencer’s lifestyle, personality or personal opinions (yes, these are equally important) conflict with a brand’s values and mission, it’s best not to take the risk and sign on the dotted line.


Fake followers


Audiences are quick to catch on when an influencer’s follower count has risen in an unnatural manner over a short period of time. A follow analysis tool like HypeAuditor allows brands to scan followers for bots so that it can help in making an informed decision before partnering with influencers.


With upto 50% of engagement levels on sponsored content being fake, it becomes increasingly important for brands to evaluate what’s authentic and what’s not before blowing up their influencer marketing spend.


Making the partnership count


Within the PR industry, it helps to do your homework to get the attention of an influencer you want to work with. A stellar example of brand that did this in a remarkable way is Lay’s #SmileDekeDekho campaign. The leading FMCG brand worked with over 750+ influencers to introduce its new packaging and bring the brand to life; managing to create an extensive engagement. This also emphasized upon the brand love and loyalty through an influencer-led campaign.


The results? 185+ million impressions and 1300+ social media features! It comes as no surprise that this campaign will be known as one of the biggest influencer-led campaigns of its time. Even more intriguing is that Lay’s also claims to have grown 18 per cent faster during the campaign, compared to the pre-campaign period.


When brands and PR agencies tie-up with influencers, there’s something in it for everybody. But did you know there’s a difference between an ‘influencer’ and a ‘creator’?


Before jumping on to the influencer marketing bandwagon, brands need to know whether they are signing up with influencers or creators. Influencers on one hand promote products and provide recommendations for a price, leveraging a platform like Instagram for marketing purposes. The term creator on the other hand seems to be reserved for content creators on a platform like YouTube.


“Influencer” and “content creator” is not synonymous. Simply put, for brands who need to source content for their website, paid ads or social media, content creators have all the answers. The vloggers, comedians and product reviewers of the world, popularly known as influencers, literally influence purchase decisions and come at a variety of costs.


Therefore, when it comes to pricing, although mega-influencers charge a staggering $1 million per post, nano-influencers not only come at a considerably less cost but have the highest engagement rates.


The bottom line is that with a camera, some good lighting, relatable content and over a1000 followers, anyone today can be an influencer. By 2022, the influencer marketing industry is set to double from $8 billion in 2019 to $15 billion! Brands and PR agencies need to stay ahead of the curve and make sure they’re getting the best out of their partnerships.


This article was first published on Buzz in Content.



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