In this guest post, Detch Singh, co-founder and CEO of Hypetap, speaks about how to bring best practice to influencer marketing.
Earlier this month, VicHealth revealed an investigation into the use of social media and influencer marketing by alcohol brands, finding that some influencers aren’t properly disclosing sponsored content. This once again brought sections of the influencer marketing industry under scrutiny.
Sadly, it also disproportionately puts the spotlight on poorly run campaigns rather than focusing on the groundbreaking success of the category. What we need to remember is, this is the result of a few bad actors, not the industry as a whole.
Industry guidelines from AANA state that all sponsored posts on social media must be disclosed by the influencer where it’s not clear that the brand has collaborated on the creation of the content. So the conversation here is really around some players not complying with industry guidelines, illustrating a lack of best practice when it comes to disclosure.
When influencers disclose their content as sponsored, they’re not taking away from the authenticity of the post, they’re adding to it. This is a critical step in ensuring influencer marketing remains transparent and safe for all involved. Brands that aren’t checking this, or working with trusted partners who do, are putting themselves at risk.
For brands and influencers, there is no excuse not to disclose, irrespective of the industry sector. Data from our campaigns shows engagement can be anywhere from 80 to 300 per cent of organic content when the alignment of the influencer has been qualified correctly.
Having worked on influencer campaigns alongside some of Australia’s most prominent alcohol brands, we’ve always insisted on disclosure and brand safety around sponsored content. This ensures all campaigns are compliant with AANA guidelines and the influencers continue having open and transparent lines of communication with their audiences.
If you are a marketer and the influencer you have partnered with does not disclose the sponsorship, your target audience will be able to sniff out the inauthenticity. This will only lead to an array of negative sentiment directed at the influencer and the brand, damaging consumer trust for both parties. Stackla’s data indicating that 86 per cent of consumers find authenticity to be important when deciding what brands they like and support just reinforces this point.
Ultimately, if the influencer is a good organic fit for the product then disclosure won’t have an adverse impact on campaign performance across any metric.
Influencers risk their relationships with followers when they show a lack of transparency. According to Bazzarvoice 47 per cent of consumers feel tired of inauthentic content published by influencers. As more brands engage in influencer marketing, audiences are increasingly recognising when content is misaligned with an influencer’s personal brand. For influencers, it’s not as simple as acknowledging an ad. It’s about dealing with the increasing lack of trust and scepticism that has emerged in recent times.
Let’s focus on the positives
Unfortunately, poorly run campaigns in influencer marketing get a lot more attention than the ones that are shooting the lights out. If you are a marketer who is looking at running an influencer campaign with an agency or provider, ask about previous campaigns and the results achieved. These are rarely covered in the press, and the focus is regularly drawn to a very few poorly run campaigns.
While the poor behaviour of a small number of half-baked operators should not overshadow the success of a truly impactful sector, it’s disappointing to see campaigns being run without adhering to disclosure guidelines. VicHealth’s investigation is a wake up call for brands to be more aware of their partnerships and policies, ensuring future campaigns are executed in the safest way possible and adhere to industry guidelines.
Disclosure for sponsored content should never be an afterthought. If you’re working with a provider that isn’t demanding disclosure, they’re not doing right by your campaign, your brand or the influencers you’re working with. It may be time to think twice about your partnership together.