Social media has seen explosive growth in recent years. According to Nielsen’s latest research, brands are increasing spending on social media by 53 percent in the coming year. More and more brands are engaging in influencer marketing to authentically connect with audiences. It boosts brand recognition, engagement and sales. It can also carry its fair share of scandals, controversy, and shadow tactics. Some of these have unfortunately come to tarnish the industry.
More than ever brands need to be careful ensuring that reputation won’t be put in jeopardy. This happens by partnering with the wrong influencer. According to recent data, this is top of mind for most marketing professionals. Seventy-six percent of brands now recognise brand safety is a concern in influencer marketing.
There are two vital considerations marketers should consider to ensure that an influencer marketing strategy does not turn sour.
Analyse an influencer’s past digital life
Brands are best to stay away from engaging with influencers who have been posting any controversial content online. Their pasts can be traced back. It’s easy to spot the well-known controversial influencers. However, the risk often lies with influencers who seem to have a good reputation on the surface. However, their “digital dirts” are buried within social media feeds.
Cancel culture has proven time and time again: anything posted on the internet is here to stay. It can resurface at any time. Sometimes it resurfaces years after first being published. This is true for everyone, but the implications can be greater for influencers and the brands associating with them. Audiences care and pay attention to what influencers say online. Whether it be a post, Instagram story or even comments on other people’s posts online.
There should be a process of evaluating influencer profiles. Analyse their content style, look out for ‘digital dirt’. Check previous collaborations and make sure there is alignment.
Influencers’ ethos vs popularity
Authenticity and transparency have never been more important to consumers. As a result, it’s vital that brands partner with influencers who are genuine and authentic. This goes beyond just the metrics showcasing online popularity. Follower count and engagement rates are important. However, understanding how well an influencer’s ethos aligns with a brand’s values is even more important.
The looming economic downturn and high cost of living mean businesses and brands will be more sensitive and cautious about cost. This will mean heightened pressure to demonstrate ROI on any marketing activity including influencer marketing. As a result marketers must ensure the influencers they are partnering with will become true advocates for the brand. The partnership should encourage loyalty and boost sales among audiences.
How to ensure brand safety
Marketers can now have access to a wide variety of innovative tools to identify influencers who will connect authentically, Brands can steer clear of those who engage in non-compliant behaviours. For example marketers can now look for any controversial posts previously published. These posts may be considered toxic, negative, offensive, too political or related to adult content. It all depends on what the brands stand for. Marketers can also look out for content in relation to religion, alcohol, or even pranks. These can be badly interpreted by the targeted audience.
When deciding on which influencer would be best to partner with, it is important to remember to always look past the surface level. First impressions mean a lot. However, making well-informed judgments that will benefit and reflect the brand’s objectives and values in the future is important. It’s important to delve deeper before introducing an influencer as a brand representative to ensure brand safety.