Why keeping it real matters in influencer marketing

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For Ranieri Agency, influencers have always been integral to any successful communications campaign, big or small. For many brands, however, influencer marketing may have been viewed as a support rather than a central strategy. What what the past year has taught us is that there is a new reality brands need to adjust to.

Now, more than ever, brands need to look towards influencer marketing to keep the conversation going with their audience. As we already know, taking a stand and prioritising purpose over profits is what has been expected of brands for a while now – a value brought about by Gen Z and fostered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and all the other events throughout 2020.

And even though we know that more than half of consumers consider the influencers they follow to be an extension of their circle of friends and that 70% of consumers say they trust the opinions of influencers as much or more than their real-world friends, we also know that this is only the case when people feel that influencers are truly authentic. And by truly authentic we mean influencers who follow what they preach, yes, but also influencers who are the right fit for the products and services being promoted – and as a result, are enthusiastic about promoting them.

By partnering with authentic influencers for your brand, you will be able to achieve amazing results with influencer marketing, and the genuine connection your influencer partners have with their audiences will be passed onto you.

But how do we find authentic brand-matches?

Authenticity in Influencer Strategies  

When it comes to developing digital & social marketing campaigns, it is important to keep authenticity in mind from the very early stages of building your strategy. Influencer briefings should be flexible and geared towards the specific personalities and persona niches of influencers to enable them to create content that fits within their established style and rings true with their audiences.

It is almost always preferable to partner with influencers for branding & lifestyle messaging as opposed to product-focused ones. If you mustfocus on specific UPSs, allow the influencer to pick the elements of your brand or product that resonate with them most to ensure their content is still rooted in truth and is therefore authentic to them.

And when it comes to setting the campaign duration, the longer the better! Long-term partnerships transform an influencer into a true brand ambassador for your brand. Audiences will soon recall your brand every time they see a post from their influencer and vice versa, and they will appreciate you more for investing in their favourite content creators, lending you even more credibility with your target consumers!

Authenticity in Influencer Match-Making 

Of course, all the best influencer-to-brand matches are rooted in data, but it’s important to trust your gut too. Sure, they have the right demographics, but can you visualize your product or service in their feed?

And of course, the authenticity of the influencer’s personality is key to how their audience perceives them, and in turn, your brand. This area can be very subjective and is often the most difficult for marketers to identify, as there are no hard-and-fast rules for how to identify an influencer that is authentic vs. one that is not.

Within the context of a given country, niche consumer segment, age, and brand, try to find influencers that give their audiences ‘real’ moments. Steer clear of pages that feature highly posed or staged content, as a partnership with your brand will likely have audiences thinking, ‘Oh this is just another ad,’ as they quickly scroll past.

Authenticity in Content Creation 

This might seem like a daunting process to marketers that are new to influencer marketing campaigns, but not to fear! We’ve broken down the best practices to use for building authenticity during campaign execution into three easy steps:

  • Create a briefing that is authentic to your brand story.
  • Connect with your influencers on a personal level. This includes:
    • Appreciate if an influencer turns down your campaign – they know themselves and their audiences, so it is in your brand’s best interest to trust their opinion of what works on their page!
    • Have confidence in their knowledge of their audiences, especially when it comes to their content creation style.
    • Ensure they have creative input in storytelling and select influencers that indicate interest in working together with your brand rather than simply acting as a content-making machine.
  • Evaluate and connect with the influencers – talk to them! See what they liked about the process and what you could improve for next time.

Takeaways 

keep a few simple rules of thumb in mind:

  • When images are too staged (i.e. product placement is obvious and not creative), audiences immediately see the posts as inauthentic.
  • It is important to take brand-match, demographics, engagement, and the feel you get from the influencer all into account when selecting influencer partners.
  • Make sure content comes off as relatable and give the influencer creative freedom to express themselves (within your brand guidelines, of course).

So remember, authentic influencer content creates a real personality for your brand, which ultimately leads to return on investment and a devoted consumer base!