A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.
A few weeks ago I put out numerous polls/questions on Instagram regarding Influencer marketing. One of the aims was to answer the question “what makes a good influencer?” Thank you to everyone who participated!
I’ve summarised the most common answers below.
When influencers do campaigns or promote products just for money was the top response to the question “what annoys you about influencers”.
This is a very relevant point. We’ve all seen ads on social media where you know the person has not touched the product in their life yet are promoting it…. “I drank this tea and lost 50 pounds, use my code to get a 10% discount”. As an influencer it is so important to be selective in choosing which products to promote to your audience. They trust your opinions/views and more often than not will purchase products that you have endorsed. The problem here is that making money as an influencer can sometimes be very easy which can lead to greedy behaviour. I sometimes think to my self I could be filthy rich if I just accepted every campaign or deal that came my way but because I don’t rely on influencer marketing for income there is less pressure to say yes. There are literally hundreds of apps where brands can upload (paid) campaigns upon campaigns for influencers to take on. In addition to this there are PR groups as well as brands reaching directly out to influencers. The opportunity to make money as an influencer is always going to be present but you have an obligation to your audience to make the right choice. Your audience is everything and without their support you wouldn’t even have these opportunities. Just bear that in mind the next time you think about making a few quick bucks.
A user response. So funny!
Don’t sound/come off like an advertisement.
There were many responses like this. When your sponsored post caption sounds like a script, it comes off as being fake. Sometimes the reality is brands are super strict with what the caption has to say and sound like. However I do agree that when sponsored posts sound like an advertisement it puts me off instantly, even if the product may be something I would genuinely enjoy. Personally this is why I turn down a lot of brand offers. There is not enough control on my end and I just cringe at the thought of having to include concepts that don’t represent me at all. I understand that the brand needs to deliver certain messages but if the audience can’t connect with the influencer because they aren’t coming off authentic, it cancels out the whole point of using influencer marketing. Perhaps, brands need to work closer with influencers to create a more genuine message to the audience.
A user response.
The next point is pretty much the opposite to the one above. Influencers should always disclose sponsored posts (paid posts) as well as mention if you were given a product in exchange for posts.
There are influencers who don’t disclose sponsorships but also others who don’t do it clearly enough. There are legal requirements to disclose sponsorships (as well as ‘in exchange’ agreements) yet there are influencers and brands who don’t disclose this for the fear of coming off inauthentic. In the past I had a brand ask me to say that I had bought their product from a shop myself so it came off more genuine. They offered to send me the product as well as pay me, as long as there was no mention of #sponsored. I didn’t even reply back. I hate shady behaviour and practices and rather not associate with companies like that. It’s also breaking the law and it can catch up with you, even if you get away with it in the short term. For some reason I feel there is this silent shame in telling people you were paid to promote a product or were given a product. For my self I have no shame in saying thank you for sending me this or I literally write thank you for sponsoring this post (brand tag) when/if I do sponsored content. If you are hundred percent confident in the product you are promoting you should be loud and proud. You should want to let everyone know to buy it because it’s genuinely amazing. Why shouldn’t influencers be paid for the work they do? Honestly there is no shame in being paid for your work. Also if you think about it, it can look a bit deceptive/you have something to hide when you have #sp or #Ad hidden amongst 20+ hashtags in the comments section. Just be up front and transparent.
A user response.
An example of how I disclose sponsored posts. Love Mirabeau Wine (#notsponsored). Sometimes brands don’t like this obvious shout out type of disclosure but the point is the audience should know that the post was sponsored (no ifs or buts).
There aren’t enough negative reviews or honest reviews. (This point was not sent in by anyone but comes from a conversation I had with a PR agency and thought it would be a good mention).
This refers to when an influencer only highlights positive points of a product and leaves out the negative. People want to know the good features of a product but also what could be improved or the flaws. This gives the consumer the ability to make an informed choice. What may be an insignificant flaw for you may be a deal breaker for someone else when it comes to purchasing a product. One of the main reasons behind this behaviour is because many brands belong to the same family. If an influencer says something negative (even if it were the truth) the brand may see it as damaging. Therefore you might lose job opportunities with that brand but also with their sister brands as well. This pressure can lead the influencer to only focus on positive parts of a product and worst case lie about the negatives to keep the company happy. I feel as long as the influencer can justify their opinions, and the brands be ok with constructive criticism, maybe influencer marketing will become much more believable to the consumer. Easier said than done though!
Another interesting point is how influencers have no accountability, meaning they can say /do whatever and in the process tarnish a brand’s reputation or even violate laws without being penalised.
The worst thing that may happen to an influencer is their account gets shut down. Meanwhile the company can suffer hugely from a business point of view. Influencers need to be super mindful on how they deliver the brand message and be hundred percent clear on the brand philosophy. The influencer and brand need to fit well and align with each others’ values to effectively deliver the accurate message to the audience.
One other thing that seemed to annoy people was influencers who engage in the follow/unfollow tactics to grow their following. I mean, seriously…. Stop it immediately because it pisses people off and you look like a dickhead!
From a pissed off user.
Take home points
- Participate in campaigns that you hundred percent believe in and clearly mention that it’s sponsored.
- Try to not sound like your caption has been copied and pasted from a script. This can immediately make someone feel you are not genuine.
- At the same time don’t hide the fact the brand is paying you to promote their products. There is no shame in admitting you are being paid.
- Be honest about a product but don’t destroy the reputation of a brand in the process. Just keep to the facts and keep your emotions aside.
- Remember brands have certain rules /laws to abide by and as an influencer you need to respect this. You are essentially representing the brands that you work with.
- Don’t use unfollow/follow tactics. That’s just wrong.
I have so much more I want to write about influencers but this is where I want to stop for today. Hope this gave you some insight into what your audience/consumers really want out of an influencer. Below is a nice summary sent in by a user who works in marketing / PR.