Influencer marketing, authenticity and belief

When it comes to PR and influencer marketing, one thing is apparent to me… you absolutely have to believe in what you are promoting.

For me, this is where mass-level influencers, such as the Kardashians, the latest Love Island contestants, and many others, often fall down – if you’re promoting something simply because you’ve been paid to do so, not because you believe in or genuinely enjoy a product or service, then how can that message ever be authentic?

I realise that for some, being an influencer is what pays the bills… but if you’re putting your name, face and reputation into a promotion, shouldn’t you be absolutely sure of what it is you’re recommending to those who follow you? And if it isn’t an authentic message, why are brands wasting their money on exposure over engagement?

Influencer marketing, in its current, popular form has emerged in recent years as a social media-led PR technique, and works on the age old basis of people buying people. PR is about managing reputation, and influencer marketing is a tool for leveraging this.

When done well (there’s some good examples here, compiled by Econsultancy:, companies of all sizes can benefit from the use of influencer marketing to improve reputation, increase local, national or global profile, and raise awareness of a product or service.

However, when done badly, both the brand and influencer can end up looking stupid, ignorant or uncaring, and reputations on both sides will be negatively affected. You don’t have to look far for examples of this – the Fyre Festival scandal immediately jumps up as one of the biggest fails of recent years.

Social media users are more aware than ever of influencers at the moment – as are the regulators. Any brand planning to work with an influencer should make use of a carefully written contract, and be clear about the briefing they give the influencer covering what they want them to do. Ideally, they will also have given the influencer some time to get to know the product or service (if possible), so that followers can be sure that any recommendations given are genuine and authentic.

Not asking much, is it?

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