In today's hyper-connected world, the title of "influencer" is fairly broad. It's no longer reserved for members of royalty, Hollywood darlings, or
In today’s hyper-connected world, the title of “influencer” is fairly broad. It’s no longer reserved for members of royalty, Hollywood darlings, or corporate elites. Because digital technology and social media have made it easy for people to access massive, global audiences, almost anyone now has the ability to grow his or her influence and make an impact.
But with an increasing number of people working and side-hustling as professional product promoters, connected consumers (particularly, Internet-savvy millennials and GenZ, who were born into and grew up in the digital age) are becoming more and more suspicious of endorsements or recommendations they see across social media.
Meet the connected consumer: She’s idealistic, yet discriminating
True to the paradox of connected consumers being both idealistic and discriminating, their reactions varied between a sense that a piece of content produced by an influencer was paid-for, and therefore inauthentic, and a wholehearted, genuine and trustworthy endorsement.
If the recommendation felt like an ad (scripted, overproduced, canned, or inauthentic), our connected consumers wanted nothing to do with it. The more genuine an endorsement was perceived to be, however, the more likely they were to form a favorable impression of the product and factor the endorsement into their purchase journey–that is, of course, if the endorsement didn’t initially close the deal.
So, how exactly can B2B marketers work with social media influencers to make sure they are authentically showcasing their authenticity? Here are three ways.
Don’t focus too much on the numbers
Yes, your marketing campaign may need to reach a certain amount of people, but don’t let the numbers blind you into working only with mega- or macro-influencers who have large audiences.
With smaller, but tighter-knit, communities, micro-influencers (1,000-100,000 followers) and nano-influencers (1,000-5,000 followers) consistently gain higher engagement rates than mega- or macro-influencers. In fact, research shows that engagement is inversely related to the number of followers an influencer has: the more followers, the less engagement.
See how people engage with that person (beyond simply Liking their content, as this metric may be coming to an end), and observe how and when the influencer responds. The more involved influencers are with their communities, and the more authentic their engagement, the better your chances of reaching people who are (or will become) truly interested in your product or company.
If an influencer isn’t the right fit for your brand, you risk sponsoring content that will likely fall on deaf ears. While you may get increased exposure, you probably won’t gain the leads or business you were hoping for.
As marketers, we always work to fully understand the audience we need to reach, and that same targeting strategy should also be utilized when considering which influencers suit your brand’s product, style, vibe or message.
An example of this being done well is when popular dog-focused Twitter account WeRateDogs tweeted an ad for Dumbo.
From first impressions, this collaboration doesn’t seem to mesh well. A Twitter account about dogs promoting a movie about an elephant? But the authentic, wholesome, well-written copy for the tweet (playing on the fact that Dumbo is “not like other dogs”) actually gained a lot of praise and affection. Some responded with photos of their own dogs. Others joined in the imagination that Dumbo is pretty much just a dog with a long nose. The result: 9.4K Retweets, 79.4K Likes and a whole lot of replies.
This is #Dumbo. He’s not like the other dogs. Seems to be a fan of feathers. Curly nose. Simply exceptional ears. Could perhaps even use them to fly. 14/10 would protect at all costs. #ad pic.twitter.com/KzJ9gEgMfL
— WeRateDogs (@dog_rates) March 25, 2019
Remain proactive and vigilant when it comes to transparency
According to a 2017 study, a staggering 93% of sponsored Instagram posts by A-list influencers didn’t adequately disclose the paid brand relationship. Plus, 49% were long-term sponsors. And to add even more fuel to the Fyre (pun intended!), reports surrounding the infamous Fyre Festival reveal that, though many of the influencers who attended the event were paid, few disclosed it. With so much obscurity about, it’s not surprising that connected consumers are weary of product placements.
Brands must be proactive with the influencers they work with to ensure that any and all sponsored posts and gifted items are properly disclosed. Vigilance is also required to make sure that disclosures are not buried within large numbers of hashtags, in post replies or anywhere else that doesn’t make it visibly and easily clear to consumers that the content is sponsored.
As well as portraying your brand as honest, transparent and trustworthy, remaining proactive and vigilant with influencers around ad disclosure will keep you above-board when it comes to being FTC-compliant.
Beyond close family and friends, endorsements by influencers we admire can inspire us to make a purchase (almost one-fifth of American consumers have bought something because of an influencer), or at least, include a product for consideration in our purchase journey. But in order to build true long-term, sustainable success with influencer marketing, brands will need to strive for genuine authenticity and honest transparency.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
This article is from Inc.com