Authenticity is Crucial for Influencer Marketing
by Koussey •
“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” William Bernbach, founder DDB said.
Like you, I see more and more sponsored posts on my Instagram feed. And sometimes, I wonder: why (the hell) is this fashion influencer promoting this video game? Does he really think I might be interested in it? Or did he just receive a great paycheck to open his community to the brand? Truth is, if I’m asking myself this question, it’s because something is off about this post. It does not fit in seamlessly with his regular content. It lacks authenticity.
Social media influencers are not only a channel to reach a community of followers. They are also - and that might be the most important - digital creators. They are the ones crafting their messages and they do it with their unique - and very personal - editorial line, resulting in a very consistent and authentic social media feed that people get used to.
When a sponsored post fits in with regular posts, with a similar kind of picture and caption, it is very likely that the collaboration will be perceived not as a simple advertisement, but as a true endorsement from the influencers. That’s why influencer marketing is so powerful. A survey made with 170 marketers from CPGs revealed that for 87% of respondents “influencer marketing’s top benefits entail creating authentic content about their brand”.
Now, letting influencers create authentic content is not that easy, because you have your brand image to control. It will require you to take a leap of faith and trust your influencers to talk about your brand and products freely.
Step 1: Don’t force a collaboration, it’s all about mutual interests!
As a brand, you have put a lot of energy to build and nurture an effective brand image. In order to keep your influencer marketing strategy in line with your overall strategy, you will have to carefully select influencers that fit in with your brand aesthetics. Don’t just concentrate on numbers, review their content to make sure their creation will blend it well with your universe.
At the same time, influencers won’t put at risk the relationship they have built with their community. They have worked on it for years and it’s their most valuable asset. It’s not unusual to see an influencer refusing to collaborate with a brand (and decline a subsequential amount of money in the process) because there is no added-value for his audience or worse, because it would be irrelevant to his feed. Believe it or not, only 11.2% stated that the monetary compensation could be a deal breaker. The top priority for influencers when they consider collaborating with a brand is to make sure they mesh well with it. It is in the influencer’s best interest to create the best content possible to keep his audience engaged. And this is something that brands greatly benefit from.
Step 2: Give them all the materials they need so that they can pick what will be important for their community
Once you have found influencers that you want to work with, it’s important to give them as much content as possible. You could share only the benefits and that would do the trick. But if you want to build a great relationship with your influencer, be honest about your product performance. Don’t tell them your cream is 100% efficient if you know that in some cases it doesn’t work. First, because as any customer, they would be pissed if the expected result is not there. Next, because they will be value your willingness to build a relationship of trust and respect and they will be much more comfortable promoting your brand. Remember that their community comes first and it’s in their interest (and in yours) to protect their community.
Don’t forget to share about your brand, your vision and your values. Influencers are also very keen on telling stories and they can definitely help you build and share your brand story.
Step 3: Leverage their creativity rather than forcing them into writing something they are not comfortable with
Now that you have found your influencers and shared information with them, they have to create their sponsored post.
As you have worked for months on the marketing strategy, imagining visuals and catch-phrases, it can be very tempting to assume you know better how the sponsored posts should look like. After all, you have refined your marketing message over and over again and you want all your potential customers to know about them.
However, this is far from being the best practice. You have created a message for the “big market”. Influencers are expert in creating content for their specific, niche community. Because they have been feeding them with numerous pieces of content for years, they know what will resonate, what will maintain high engagement. Let them do what they do best: creating engaging content for their community. If you take this leap of faith, if you accept to slightly tweak your content marketing strategy, you will be amazed by their creativity.
You can share a brief, a moodboard to enhance their creativity, but don’t expect them to follow this to the letter.
At the end of the day, nobody likes to be lied to. A micro-influencer marketing campaign will be successful if, and only if, authenticity is at the center of it: it is what makes influencers influential to their community. That’s why brands and influencers need to create a relationship that people believe in, and should never try to force a connection. It’s the responsibility of both side to create sponsored content that feels authentic.
Written by Koussey
Koussey is a cofounder of Capssion