The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising reported that “83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over traditional advertising” (2015).
Looking at these social marketing strategies, audiences are more responsive to products endorsed by ‘everyday’ individuals as they provide a sense of reliability. As shown throughout this blog, influencer marketing has proved to be highly effective across all social sites, through being a visual platform. Consumers see these posts as similar to a friend recommending them a product, rather than a celebrities blatantly being paid to advertise and sell. With celebrities and high profile accounts, consumers may see posts as aspirational, and follow suit as they want to emulate the influencer’s lifestyle.
Being a brand, your authenticity shows through the creative expression between your objectives, influencer vision, and audience connection. When considering influencers to partner with, businesses need to assure that the influencer’s overall personal brand aligns with the their core values. One of the biggests faults I’ve seen brands make when executing a campaign is handling creative control. For example, although scripting what influencers should say will portray the direct message of the product, brands who look to trust these influencers to convey their own messages benefit more from this marketing strategy as these individuals know how to create content that best resonates with their audience in order to maintain a high engagement and continue to grow their following.
With influencers often considering their social feed as a form of expression, providing creative freedom goes a long way. What sets influencer marketing apart from traditional methods is the authentic factor it provides audiences. Businesses need to ensure influencers align with their brand when choosing who to work with, while influencers need to remain credible when giving their reviews or opinion about a product.
Mara McCune, Vice President of E.L.F Cosmetics is one example that utilizes this practice throughout her own brand, stating;
“We ask them to be truthful – to share their candid thoughts on our products, tell us what else they want to see from Elf and tell us what we could be doing better…We have found that they understand who we are and are able to help tell our story without needing to provide specific guidelines.”
The byproduct of authenticity is, therefore, trust and loyalty. Remaining authentic is the foundation to keeping your audience. James Nord is the co-founder of Fohr Card which is a a service that helps match up brands and influencers. Nord has an optimistic opinion of how much honesty really goes into a partnership stating;
“The amount of influencers we have who come in and turn down $10,000 from us because the product doesn’t make sense for their audience is really encouraging for me. The fact that we have people turn down $30,000 deals because they feel like they couldn’t authentically speak on behalf of that product makes me feel really good.”
Although we would love to believe that all influencers generate authentic collaborations, for brands investing in the correct influencer is vital to ensure the product is promoted correctly.
Example: HiSmile (@hismileteeth)
Oral cosmetics company HiSmile are one of the leading teeth whitening brands throughout the online space, running adverts and sponsored posts across numerous social platforms. Launching in December 2014 with just $20,000 in capital, HiSmile has achieved a turnover exceeding $50 million and has plans to reach $100 million by the end 2018. The brand’s success can be attributed to its targeted social media marketing strategy and focus on influencers, including Kylie Jenner and Conor McGregor.
Discussing these strategies in an article with News.com.au, Brand owners Nik Mirkovic, 22, and Alex Tomic, 24 state they saw individuals like Jenner “as the pinpoint of that (16-24 female) demographic, she was the go-to and it was important for us to align ourselves with her,” (Mirkovic)
Expanding into the male millennial market the pair also saw McGregor as the “most relevant male for our demographic,” stating that they wanted to “ make noise in the male market and make it OK for men to purchase products like ours” (Mirkovic)
Although the this success is impressive, doing research I uncovered the strategies and lengths they go to work with these influencers, which isn’t always authentic to its customers.
Every individual who has promoted HiSmile expresses nothing but positive feedback for both the product and the brand itself. However, influencer Brittney Lee Saunders took to twitter recently voicing her opinion on the brand and showcasing their lack of authenticity with audiences. Saunders is a fairly popular Australian blogger herself with over 1 million Youtube subscribers and 604k Instagram followers. Posting a private message with the brand on twitter, she discusses why she isn’t able to promote their product due to having porcelain veneers (as they cannot be whitened). Going back and forth, the brand attempts to persuade the blogger stating these influencers like Jenner promotes Hismile even though they have veneers too.
However, throughout their article in news.com.au, the entrepreneurs talk on their work with the reality star stating “ they went through six months of negotiations and talks because Jenner was very clear that she has to test and review the product to make sure it aligned with her image.”
While this highlights Saunders authenticity with her audience it negativity showcases the unethical practices of Hismile product, brand and promotion , revealing their lack of care through as they profit off a fabricated product.