Influencer marketing can be criticized in some aspects - just like any other industry. One of the biggest and most exciting questions in the world of social media is the authenticity of the contents we are exposed to day by day and its effect on the campaign results. So what's up with that?
Here at Post For Rent we use #besocial and #stayreal as our mantras. Shading light on the credibility of our influencers have always been an important feature for us, and all the metrics we show in our influencer profile analysis on the platform are living proof of that. Credibility and authenticity may not go hand in hand, but you can't have one without the other. The hard data is already in our reports, but what about the less tangible, softer side of it? What makes the picture whole and results in real success with authentic and credible influencers?
Wait a minute: why is authenticity even an important term in advertising?
Not only in advertising, but in the area of human resources, branding and especially services marketing authenticity has become a buzzword recently, with more and more studies conducted to tackle its real impact and relevance on customer experience and sales drive. Psychologists' research found that emotions - even through a visual content as a photo - are contagious. What's more, our brains can actually tell the difference between real and fake emotions, as it results in very different unconscious reactions. An honest smile will trigger and create the same kind of emotion for the person in the receiving end, while a fake smile does nothing. Customer experience and users' brand perception tend to work just the same way through social media. According to this equation if an influencer is honestly happy with a product in the picture, it will simply create a better feeling for the user who sees the content and they are more likely to create positive associations with the brand involved as well. This topic is super exciting and we could talk about it all day, but enough of the theoretical lecture. Let's move on to the influencer industry specifically and see what we can do to ensure authenticity alongside some best practices from top content creators to get you all inspired!
What does it really mean to be real in the influencer community?
Or is it even necessary? After all, we've seen extremely successful influencers lack all of the points we will discuss here. Nonetheless, we also see a strong trend arising that involves creators coming back to their true self with less filters and more honesty. We do believe that #stayingreal is an important part of #dreamingbigger and creating the most successful campaigns.
1. Work with influencers who genuinely like and believe in the product you are selling!
Influencer marketing was born in the first place because people needed someone's opinion they can trust, as they became more and more aware of brands' excessive advertisement and the fact that they tend to show their products in the best light possible - which they feared was not always 100% accurate. So they turned to other customers' experiences for support on the social platforms, and the rest is history. Good examples do exist, many influencers are particular about the kind of collaborations they accept depending on whether the brand fits their own style, values and topic, that's how the content will be most authentic and the campaign itself credible. However, on the other hand so many creators still do not pay enough attention to choosing only the right campaigns to work on, they don't think long term and follow a strategy that will allow them to grow continuously. As a brand, what you can do to ensure this credibility is to engage with the creator as much as you can, letting them get to know your brand personality, your mission and goals: making them own the campaign as much as possible. Remember, an honest smile is contagious!
2. Customers want to relate to the person - so it doesn't always need to be picture perfect!
There is a difference between creating quality contents, and only showing the bright side of it all. Many creators realized this issue and share their struggles and less happy moments as well - and these are usually the influencers who are able to create better engagement numbers as their followers respond to that.
One of the always smiling, energy bomb content creators we've already taken a look at in other blog articles, Valeria Lipovetsky is not afraid to open up about difficult moments as well, or share her journey of gaining back her confidence after pregnancy. Click to see how she did it.
3. Less filters, more honesty - or at least be more honest about the filters!
Credibility does not only mean to be real about the fact that not even social media personalities' lives are perfect, but to have the confidence to show that pretty pictures are great - but not always truthful. This trend went from the 'Instagram vs. Reality' meme to being the entire topic of Rianne Meijer, one of the most successful body positivity influencers whose mission is literally to stay real - even her dog nails the Instagram vs. Reality montage :)
She shares it all: from beautifully taken and edited pictures to badly caught images, from contents with makeup and filter on to totally natural. Click on the image below to check her out on Instagram.
4. Great power comes with great responsibility
When a content creator is called an influencer, it's for a reason: they really have an influence over their followers' thoughts and opinions. As we mentioned at the beginning - we are all emotionally contagious. It's not only a cliché, it's real power which means that ideally, this business is not only about their own interests anymore. For instance, the travel influencer who flies from Santorini to Italian cities while traveling around during a global pandemic - getting an offer from a Greek hotel to collaborate and go back to Santorini for another week. We are now traveling back and forth from one highly impacted destination to the other. There is a message that we send out with each and every post, each and every decision. Let's make sure society - their audience - benefits from it. That is a duty brands and influencers have in common.
Having discussions with your chosen creator about your brand personality, values and mission is an important part of a successful campaign as it ensures credibility.
Look for the difference between quality content and a picture perfect one - there is a fine line, but the results can vary a lot.
If engagement is an important indicator for you, look for the influencers who show their struggles as well, not only the always happy, easy-breezy things in their lives. Honest relationships build trust, and trust is what users need to take their idol's advice and try your product.
You can mock all you want, but I'll say it: your heart just has to be in it.