Influencer marketing has been in the spotlight for some time. It was the marketing trend that won over consumers in hordes, and every brand wanted in. However, the influencer marketing industry is gradually becoming oversaturated. We now see brands working with influencers simply because of their massive following, and influencers working with just any brand that can pay them.
Combined with the advent of influencers who have no qualms about buying fake followers, influencer marketing is starting to lose its appeal. If it loses its source of power, i.e., its trustworthiness, it can no longer have the kind of impact that drew brands to it in the first place.
This makes it critical for brands to learn how to maintain trust and transparency in influencer marketing.
From my experience working with companies and influencers, I’ve learned that this trust and transparency isn’t just one-dimensional. There are several aspects to it that brands need to get right — whether it’s the trust between brand and consumer or the trust between brand and influencer.
1. Finding The Right Influencers For Consistent Partnerships
Your choice of influencers will play a major role in brand trust. Look for influencers who are relevant to your target audience and analyze them for authenticity. This involves analyzing their engagement rates and content quality. Ideally, I’ve found it’s best practice to work with influencers with an average engagement rate of at least 1%.
However, engagement rates alone aren’t enough to get an accurate picture of an influencer’s credibility. Manually go through their content to assess it for quality, and examine what kind of voice they have, which brands they’ve worked with, how honest they are with their reviews, etc.
Once you’ve found influencers you work well with, make it a priority to maintain a long-term relationship with them. Consistently partnering with the same influencers can strengthen trust in your brand as it shows the audience that the influencer is loyal to your brand. It also shows them that the influencer isn’t just promoting you because you’ve paid them to.
2. Disclosing Sponsorships
Aside from the fact that it’s mandatory to disclose your partnerships according to guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission, doing so will help you maintain transparency and build trust. Some influencers might feel tempted to not disclose their sponsorships because they don’t want to appear as if they’ve sold out.
However, cover-ups like this are extremely misleading and cannot last for long, as consumers will eventually sniff it out. When that happens, it will damage the audience’s trust in both the influencer and your brand. So make sure you have strict disclosure guidelines for the influencers with whom you work.
Social media platforms have also made it easier to disclose influencer partnerships. On Instagram and Facebook, for example, influencers can now tag the brands they’re working with under the “Paid Partnership with” tag.
Even if you’re running ads through influencer accounts, you can use the new Branded Content Ads feature from Instagram. This feature allows you to amplify the sponsored content created by influencers and reach an even bigger audience. It helps ensure transparency as the ad will show up under the influencer’s name and tag their partner brand.
3. Maintaining Transparency In Whitelisting
Influencer whitelisting is a popular solution to tackle the issue of declining reach on social media. It allows brands to amplify sponsored content through the influencer’s account. The goal is to reach an even bigger and more targeted audience while still utilizing the influencer’s creativity and credibility.
Ads coming from real people like influencers are less disruptive and blend in more seamlessly with the audience’s feeds, compared to ads coming from brands. However, it can be a bit misleading if there is no proper disclosure about your partnership, thus affecting transparency.
With the use of Branded Content Ads from Instagram and Facebook’s Branded Content Tool, influencers can clearly display their brand partners in the ads. These tools also help to nurture trust between brands and influencers, as the influencers no longer need to hand over their account controls to run these ads.
Once they tag their brand partners, they can give them permission to amplify the content through paid ads. The best part is that brands can do all this without accessing the influencer’s account so the influencer doesn’t sacrifice their account security. It’s a win/win situation.
The only drawback of these tools is that you can only use the content that the influencers have already published to their feed. If you want to run similar ads using fresh, creative content that hasn’t been published before, you can use tools that track content and its performance.
All of these tools allow influencers to keep track of what the brand is doing with their content. This further promotes transparency between both parties and establishes trust.
4. Providing Creative Freedom
Most influencers care about authenticity and reputation as it strengthens their relationship with the audience. To do this, they need to consistently create content that’s authentic and true to their values. When brands try to have too much control over the influencer’s voice, it affects the trustworthiness of the content.
Not only does this affect how their followers will see them, but it also affects how the influencer feels about your brand. This makes it crucial for brands to provide influencers with creative freedom, as it is the foundation for building trust. If you trust the influencer and their creativity, they will be able to create content in their own voice — the voice their followers already trust.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into maintaining trust and transparency in influencer marketing. Make sure it’s not just confined to brand-consumer relationships but also extends to your relationship with influencers.