Trust is the single most important thing in influencer marketing. If people don’t trust you, they will never buy from you. It’s that simple.
For influencer marketing though, authenticity is far more than just coming off as authentic, as a brand. There’s much more to it than that.
I’ve seen things done right when it comes to running an authentic influencer campaign, and I’ve seen things done wrong when running a campaign. In this article, I’ll be sharing that knowledge with you, and help you run influencer campaigns that come off as authentic from the beginning to the start.
Why is authenticity important?
Let’s begin by saying that authenticity and trust are very much integrated when it comes to influencer marketing. If you are not authentic in your influencer marketing campaigns, people will never trust you. But on a good note, if you remain authentic and honest at all times, you’ll automatically get your audiences’ trust. And one seldom exists without the other.
The short version is that authenticity leads to trust, which ultimately leads to sales. If no one trusts your brand, chances are they won’t buy from you.
Plenty of research has been done around brands, trust, and authenticity, and the statistics are remarkable.
- Customers identified authenticity as one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand in 2013.
- For millennials, brand authenticity is second after loyalty discounts in importance when choosing companies to support, according to the same study as above.
- An infographic studying authenticity shows that 63 percent of customers would buy from an authentic brand.
- 91 percent of customers want brands they follow to be authentic in their social media posts.
Now, with that said, and with the statistics listed, let’s look at what you can do to make your influencer marketing campaign come off as more authentic, and ultimately, generate better results.
But before we do that, let’s have a look at a few influencer marketing campaigns that didn’t go as planned, and which thus came off as extremely inauthentic:
These copy-paste caption fails damaged the credibility and authenticity of the post, as it sent signals that the words didn’t come from the influencer themselves. As a result, people didn’t trust the messages that were being mediated by the influencers.
In order for people to trust you, they need to feel that you genuinely mean the things that you say. If what you say don’t align with your normal personality and style, then it creates a disconnect between you and the message you’re trying to convey.
So as a brand, if you’re teaming up with an influencer, do not make the mistake the above brands have made and write the captions for them. It is absolutely okay as a brand to come with suggestions and wishes of what should be included in a social media post because then the influencer will mediate that message in their own personality and voice. But if you write the caption for them, that touch of personality will go lost.
Be the same person on and offline
While this is a bit trickier to do as a company as opposed to a brand, it certainly isn’t impossible.
Now, you might be thinking “This doesn’t have anything to do with influencer marketing!”
But that’s actually untrue.
The brand you present, whether it be on social media or offline actually has a lot to do with influencer marketing and the results you’ll generate from it.
As you might know, results from influencer marketing doesn’t come overnight.
In fact, Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.
The matter is somewhat complex, so I’ll do my best in explaining it in a simple way.
Here’s the deal:
Influencers are individuals who have built their trust through years of relationship building. When they recommend a brand, their audience trusts their words, and many will start to follow the brand on social media.
But still, trust in your brand isn’t fully established, and chances are, they won’t buy from you right on the spot.
Chances are they’ll follow you to see what your brand is about and if they feel they can trust the brand, and if they get convinced, they’ll buy something.
But what if they follow you on social media and have gotten an impression of what type of brand you are and what personality you have…
Only to see that you are a completely different personality offline?
Chances are, they’ll get confused and start questioning whether or not they can trust you.
Because influencer marketing most often generates most of the marketing results long after a campaign has ended, it’s important that your personality aligns with the personality you had a while back. Both on- and offline.
Partner with influencers who aligns with your brand
This is the single most important part of a successful influencer marketing campaign. At least if you want the campaign to come off as authentic.
After all, an authentic influencer campaign is almost the same thing as a successful influencer campaign, because if the campaign isn’t authentic, and you’ve partnered with an influencer who is completely different from your brand, people will be able to tell and conceive it as just another marketing campaign.
If a brand, on the other hand, partners with an influencer who has built a trusted community which also happens to be people from the brand’s very own target audience, they’ll generate far better results.
By partnering with an influencer who is a good fit for your brand, you can tell your story through the eyes of the influencer. By getting the influencer to share your brand message in their own way with a personal touch, it allows them to spread your message to a new and wider audience, while also sharing your message in a more trustworthy way that doesn’t come of as overly promotive.
There is an endless number of metrics you can look at when choosing an influencer, but the most important ones are:
Something also worth having in mind is the visual style the influencer mediates. When choosing an influencer, you want them to suit your brand perfectly, and by looking at their visual style, you can do just that.
Taking a look at things like the language they use will also help you identify if they’re a truly perfect fit for your brand.
Brands have said that identifying suitable influencers is among the hardest things to do in an influencer marketing campaign, but since it is also one of the most important parts, it simply cannot be neglected.
If you need more in-depth information on how you can find the perfect influencers, read How to Find Social Media Influencers: a Complete Guide
Don’t treat your audience like they’re dumb
Most of the people will know if an influencer campaign is sponsored or not, so don’t pretend like it isn’t. Your community is smart.
You might believe it’s the opposite, but the truth is that your campaign can come off as more authentic if the influencer discloses that it’s an ad, instead of trying to hide it.
Now with the FTC regulations that say you need to disclose when an ad on social media is paid, it’s especially important that you/your influencer disclose that your campaign is endorsed.
In fact, Federal Trade Commission staff recently sent out more than 90 letters reminding influencers and marketers that influencers should clearly disclose their relationships to brands when promoting and endorsing them on social media.
This is what FTC says:
Don’t try to be perfect
Everyone knows that perfection doesn’t exist.
So don’t try to present yourself as perfect, whether it be in your influencer’s promotion or on your own social channels.
One of the easiest ways to turn off your customers and make you seem inauthentic is to pretend like you are perfect. It’s basically self-explanatory but because everyone knows perfection doesn’t exist, their trust in you will be harmed when you go around pretending like you’re flawless.
Because it makes it seem like you think that you are superior and worst of all, it gives the impression that you believe that you are always right – which is a terrible label to have as a brand, because the customer is always right.
Share content your audience cares about
You might believe that every single part about building authenticity with influencer marketing has to do with the influencer campaign and nothing else.
This is far from the whole truth.
As I’ve already shown you once, there are things outside of the influencer campaign that is very important.
The reason for that is because much of the results generated by influencer marketing are generated long after the campaign has ended.
If you ask me, this is the single most important part of generating results with influencer marketing – apart from making the campaign itself successful.
When an influencer promotes your brand, many of their followers will start following you.
The influencer campaign works as a funnel to collect people from your target audience so you can impact them over and over with your very own social media posts.
Here’s the catch…
If and when they do, they’re going to get your posts in their feed. But what if those posts are completely different from the content that the influencer is sharing?
Then they’ll think “This has nothing to do with the influencer I am following”, and probably unfollow you. Plus lose trust in the influencer.
But if you provide a seamless experience for the people transferring from influencer to brand, they’ll feel like they’re at the right place when looking at the content you share, and they’ll trust your words more.
Join the conversation
I cannot stress this enough, but much of the results generated with influencers are made long after the campaign itself has ended.
Most people aren’t buying a product after they’ve seen a picture on it once, on their smartphone.
In fact, the statistics speak quite clearly about it. Only 15.1% buys something the first time they see it on social media.
Your influencer will receive comments on their posts.
If they don’t, you should cut the partnership immediately. Because that only goes to show nobody cares about what they have to say. And you won’t get any results from those types of partnerships.
If they do, make sure you respond to all of them in a genuine and positive way.
This helps you come off as a brand who takes customer service and PR very seriously, while also valuing every single customer of yours.
It will also be a tremendous first encounter people have with your brand, and you’ll instantly boost their trust in you.
Also, make sure you are monitoring hashtags, etc. to see if the influencer campaign generated any reposts or brand mentions. By taking time to listen to everything people have to say, and responding to them accordingly, your authenticity will sky-rocket through the rough.
Trust, authenticity, and honesty are crucial traits for a successful influencer marketing campaign, yet still, these are often aspects that are forgotten by both the influencer and the brands.
Make sure that you put great energy into developing a campaign that is credible and authentic to your audience by taking into account all the things mentioned in this article. It does not take much more energy, but it does help generate considerably better results.