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Influencer sellouts might be killing your campaign.

Authenticity is one of the most important factors of a marketing campaign that often gets overlooked or completely forgotten. If the influencers in your campaign lack trust and credibility, you are bound to fail. 

Let’s break down what causes influencer inauthenticity and how you can prevent this.

Photo credit to Ivan Samkov on Pexels.

Social media is over-saturated with sponsored content.

Social media is overflowing. There are hundreds of thousands of influencers creating sponsored content.

Social media users, especially on Instagram, have complained that Instagram seems like one large advertisement. Their favorite influencers now mostly do sponsored posts.

How obvious is it that an influencer is a sellout? Why should you, as a brand, care?

Inauthenticity doesn’t go unnoticed. Influencers who mainly post sponsored content tend to have lower trust rates, lower engagement, and don’t drive as many sales. Mobile Marketer revealed that the engagement rate for sponsored Instagram posts went from 4% in 2016 to 2.4% in 2019. Overall, engagement rates for all types of content have decreased.

When followers see a collaboration as inauthentic, both the influencer and brand lose credibility. A study from Bazaarvoice revealed that 47% of customers are tired of influencer content that appears inauthentic.

What do inauthentic collaborations look like?

Photo credit to Artem Podrez on Pexels.

Inauthentic collaborations are pretty easy to spot, even to those who don’t know much about marketing and partnerships.

1. Unnatural content

Avoid influencer content that showcases the product or service in an “in-your-face” type of way. People tend to see this as a commercial rather than something the influencer uses in their day-to-day life. 

Product placements should be integrated seamlessly into an influencer’s normal flow of content. For example, a beauty influencer can integrate a sponsored product into a makeup tutorial, putting more emphasis on the sponsored product rather than supporting products. The sponsored content should not seem out of place or unusual for the influencer to post.

Content that matches the influencer’s feed and personality is the best way to connect with their followers. For example, working with a TikTok fashion influencer to promote your new clothing launch. Providing them with expectations is important, but allowing them to talk about your product without a script will allow their personality to shine through. Scripted content usually sounds too robotic and unnatural. 

You chose to work with an influencer for a reason: because you like their content. Creative freedom is the key to authentic content.

2. Generic captions

Photo credit to MarieXMartin.

Whatever you do, don’t send the same generic caption to every influencer in the campaign. 

Followers who feel close and connected to certain influencers will know how that influencer types and their usual tone of voice. If they paste a generic caption under their sponsored post, followers will be able to tell it’s not the influencer’s voice.

This ties into creative freedom. Influencer briefs are important, but allowing as much creative freedom as possible will help an influencer seem more authentic and trustworthy to their followers.

Avoid too much structure. Remember, influencers are real people. They should have their own voice.

3. Too many sponsorships

Avoid working with too many influencers, especially when they have large audiences.

If a brand chooses to work with dozens of large influencers, potential customers will be tired of seeing the same partnerships over and over again. People will be under the impression that the brand paid anyone and everyone to talk about the product or service. 

One popular meal kit subscription company received criticism on social media for over-sponsoring. People were tired of seeing the company work with every popular influencer. If people see too much advertisement for your brand, they are more likely to be turned off from purchasing

Remember: being selective is key. Limit how many people you work with and make sure they’re the right individuals.

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How to find authentic influencers

Photo credit to Ron Lach on Pexels.

1. Remember your brand values

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who’s your target audience
  2. What’s your brand image?  
  3. What type of people do you want buying your product or service?
  4. What’s your slogan or motto?

Finding influencers who represent your brand well ensures they support your brand as a whole and are not solely doing it for a paycheck.

2. Nano-influencers are your best friends

If you want to bring in influencers who will be honest about their experience with your product or service, try focusing on nano-influencers.

Nano-influencers have under 10,000 followers. These influencers typically have stronger relationships with their followers and higher engagement rates, which is the key to bringing in sales. 

Compare the comment section of a large influencer to a nano-influencer. Large influencers rarely respond to comments, and nano-influencers respond to most, if not all, comments. This is an example of real connections with followers.

These relationships can be used to your brand’s benefit. The influencer is able to respond directly to any questions people might have. It shows knowledge and passion for your brand.

3. Avoid the “one for all” influencer

Photo credit to Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

The “one for all” influencer is someone that accepts sponsorships from brands that compete with each other. For example, if you’re selling pre-workout and choose a fitness influencer that has brand deals with competing brands, people might see them as a sellout.

These influencers are not typically loyal. They seem ready to move on to the next best product or brand whenever it appears. 

However, this is not a deal breaker. It is possible for an influencer to like more than one brand. They can like multiple jewelry companies, skincare companies, clothing companies, and more. 

If you want to collaborate with an influencer who has existing deals with a competitor, ensure that this influencer’s content and reviews appear authentic.

What’s more important is how they advertise themselves. If the content looks unnatural, it’ll be obvious that the influencer is a sellout. If the influencer posts authentic reviews, people are more likely to trust their word, even if they have sponsorships from different brands in the same industry. 

If an influencer has worked with competitors, ensure they’ve never spoken negatively about your brand. Influencers sometimes bring down one brand to uplift another. Research their past sponsorships thoroughly to see if they’ve ever made a negative comment about your brand.

4. Find potential long-time partners

Look for influencers who seem like they would enjoy your product without a sponsorship. 

If you have a women’s jewelry line, it would be best to find female influencers who are into fashion. If they seem like they would buy from your brand naturally, they are more likely to seem authentic to their followers.

Don’t forget to provide these influencers with sponsorship benefits. Free products and discount codes will make them more inclined to purchase from your brand in the future.

5. Avoid the lazy influencer

Many influencers are only in it for the money. That’s the reality of the industry. 

Stay away from influencers whose content seems lazy and is not consistent on social media. If they disappear and only reappear for a collaboration, people will notice this.

Influencers who post a mix of unsponsored and sponsored content are your target. These influencers appear to be on social media not just for the money, but because they genuinely enjoy it. 

Influencers who enjoy their job are more likely to put effort into the collaboration and produce quality content. This brings in permanent customers. 

Small things like the ones listed above make or break an influencer campaign. If you’ve been wondering why your campaigns might not be bringing in many sales, rethink your strategy for finding influencers. 

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