The fine line between authenticity and deception
Year on year, influencer marketing is becoming more important as a way for brands to increase their outreach via sponsored content.
In 2023, 20% of UK consumers said they had bought products because celebrities or influencers advertised them, compared to 13% in 2019.
We’ve been looking at the ethics of influencer marketing, and the need to remain both transparent and authentic when advertising on social media.
Brands and influencers should work together to ensure sponsored posts are distinguishable as such, to avoid being seen as misleading.
Any sponsored posts should be clearly labelled as an advertisement, in line with UK government guidelines, as well as not making any false or unsupported statements.
Transparency builds and strengthens trust in both influencers and brands, and means consumers are more likely to use a brand or engage with an influencers content in the future.
A 2020 survey found 68% of marketers say authenticity and transparency are key to influencer marketing success.
Brands should seek to build long-term partnerships with influencers so that they become authentic ambassadors who truly feel passionate about what they’re promoting.
Meanwhile, influencers must remain true to themselves, their audience, and their content style when choosing which brands to collaborate with.
Followers are more likely to engage with content which they feel is authentic, which helps both influencers and brands increase their outreach.
Brands should research to make sure influencers fit with their image and brand values. If an influencer has a niche, or certain social messaging which they promote, this should align with the brand’s own campaign and values.
Influencers should think about whether their own values line up with a possible brand or campaign. By curating a consistent personal brand, they can create content that resonates with a loyal audience.
High follower counts don’t always equal high engagement rates, or even real people – a 2021 report found that 49% of all Instagram influencers worldwide were found to have used fake followers at some point in time.
Brands should take steps to confirm that the influencers they collaborate with have real following counts, by asking for engagement rates and using analytical tools to check if followers are fake. Ensuring this means that money isn’t wasted on low-engagement campaigns.