Influencer marketing isn’t new, but with so many marketing approaches vying for audience attention, having a powerful influencer plan is a great way to expose your brand to your target audience.
I’ve found that one of the best social media platforms for influencer marketing is Instagram because it features some of the most powerful, persuasive, highly knowledgeable, and trusted individuals who are dedicated to helping you attract new clients in droves.
However, with transparency dwindling among some high profile influencers, one of the biggest issues with influencer marketing is the presence of authenticity in their branding. I’ve outlined 3 examples below of how authenticity in influencer marketing can go awry, what you can do to cultivate a positive relationship with your influencers, and how you can promote a more authentic brand experience for your audience.
Caroline Calloway: transparency in content
Calloway exuded the highest degree of authenticity. She detailed every moment of her life in a series of content-heavy Instagram captions that acted as a personal memoir for her experiences of love and loss at the prestigious Cambridge University in London, England. There was only one catch: she didn’t write the posts, and many of her stories were exaggerated versions of the truth.
By the time Calloway’s Creativity Workshop launched and she had received a book deal from Flatiron Books, the facade had started to slip. Calloway’s ex-best friend, Natalie Beach, came forward to reveal the amount of content that she actually wrote in Calloway’s place, and just how unprepared Calloway was to teach her creativity seminars.
Calloway illustrates the importance of transparency in your messaging to your audience. When working with an influencer, it’s essential that they authentically represent your business to ensure the content accurately reflects your brand. Having guidelines available to convey how you would like your content presented is a helpful way of evading any mixed messaging regarding the content.
Fyre Festival: transparency in advertising
Fyre Festival caused such an uproar in the social media community that two documentaries were made to expose the catastrophe. After working with countless celebrity influencers and spending millions of dollars to promote a luxurious three-day party in the Bahamas, attendees arrived at the island to discover that Fyre Festival wasn’t as advertised.
The creator of Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland, was sentenced to six years in prison, and is liable for over $26 million in investors’ money. Not only is this a lesson in transparency, but it’s also a reminder of how costly a lack of authenticity with your audience can be.
Even the models hired as influencers were unaware of the depth of McFarland’s scam. As a business owner, this illustrates how crucial it is to give all of the relevant information to your marketing team, including your influencers. By showing audiences exactly what to expect from your product or service, you’re allowing for a greater level of transparency, and will avoid and potentially negative reactions from customers.
Fuchs and Grossman: transparency in experience
Sometimes, influencers like to take a concept and create hype around it. This is actually an excellent marketing practice, but when the goal is to have your audience believe in something that isn’t quite what it seems, it can come off as hollow.
Marissa Fuchs and Gabriel Grossman, an Insta-famous couple who documented their too-perfect “surprise” Instagram proposal, created a lot of buzz out of something that turned out to be staged.
In order to accurately promote your services, you need to show the audience exactly what kind of experience they can expect, and why it’s valuable to them. If the audience has a complete understanding of what the influencer’s experience actually entails, they will be more likely to want to be a part of it.
In addition to cultivating greater authenticity with your audience, frequent and clear communication with influencers, appropriate compensation, and allowing them to have a measure of creative control over their work are essential to create and maintain a positive relationship with them. It can also help to get to know your influencers on a personal level before agreeing to partner with them. This will provide insight into what they will be bringing to the table.