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Transparency is an influencer's bread and butter.

Their style of marketing hinges on being authentic and sharing real, personal stories and opinions with their audience. They’re so successful because they aren’t celebrities living in a bubble of fame that very few of their followers will ever reach – they’re living lives that are attainable and using products that their audiences will find useful. 

But despite the fact that transparency is so important for an influencer’s longevity, there are many that don’t play by the rules, especially when it comes to impressing brands that they’ve made deals with. We’re taking a look at why transparency is so important to your influencer campaigns and how you can protect this quality while working with influencers.

Photo credit to Fares Hamouche on Unsplash.

What is Transparency?

(Noun) Operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed; implies openness, communication, and accountability.

The idea that influencers need to be authentic as a cornerstone of their marketing strategy really comes down to the fact that the inverse – influencers that are overtly manufactured in their interactions with their audience – backfires on their personal brand and on the brands that work with them. People are seeking content that they can relate to on an intimate level, and they tend to reject content that is disingenuous or manufactured. Transparency needs to be a vital point of your influencer strategy, or your campaigns will never reach their full potential. 

Transparency is critical for: 

  • Delivering authenticity and digital accountability
  • Building and strengthening trust in your brand
  • Consumer buy-in and influencer relatability
  • Influencer believability 

Believability goes hand-in-hand with transparency – campaigns that attempt to make influencers say things about a product or service that aren’t entirely true or that don’t jive with an influencer’s normal style can harm their audience’s trust in them and doom your campaign to failure.

Why is Transparency Vital?

According to a recent study, 94% of consumers would be loyal to a brand that is transparent, and more than half of that number say that they would be loyal to that brand for life. This gives us valuable insight into the motivations of this generation of consumers – transparency isn’t just something that they want from brands, it’s something that they require. This quality is valued over many other qualities and should be taken into primary consideration during marketing initiatives. In the digital age, people are drawn to brands that they identify with, and one of the best ways to foster that is to use influencers and their engaged audiences to your advantage.

How Transparent Are Your Influencers?

Unfortunately, not every influencer is as transparent as we want them to be. In a study of Instagram posts tagged #sponsored or #ad over a single day, over 50% of them were found to contain fake engagements.

Every time a piece of content on Instagram or other platforms uses these hashtags, it indicates that the influencer that posts them is following a disclaimer policy from a brand sponsor. But the likes, comments, and shares that are seen on these posts aren’t real 50% of the time. Many influencers have been found to be purchasing likes and comments in huge numbers to inflate the results that a brand is expecting to see from sponsored content. This means that campaigns that appear to be doing really well may not result in an acceptable ROI for brands, simply because the results they’re seeing are inflated.

Fortunately, there are ways to identify influencer fraud, but brands need to understand that 50% of sponsored posts containing fake engagements is a normal figure and that reducing that percentage to 0 may not be realistic at this time. However, companies need to insist on lowering that statistic, or nothing will ever change.

How To Protect Transparency In Your Influencer Campaign

There are a few main ways that we recommend protecting transparency in your influencer campaigns: 

1. Be Vigilant About Follower Fraud

Keep a close eye on the data associated with influencers that you currently work with or influencers that you’re planning on working with in the future. While an account may look amazing on paper, you can often discover fraud by scrutinizing those numbers more closely.

2. Maintain Authenticity With Creative Methods

Many companies are constantly innovating in the ways that they interact with influencers – the trick is to engage audiences in new, fresh, authentic ways that catch their attention. For example, micro-influencers are on the upswing because they’re more cost-effective and have more engaged audiences than larger influencers. Giving your influencers creative freedom is another great way to keep your content fresh and engaging without a lot of effort.

3. Use The Tools At Your Disposal To Monitor Transparency

There are plenty of tools out there that are built to mitigate the rise in fake followers and engagement from influencers. Use a third-party tool to authenticate an influencer’s followers and set internal benchmarks for the number of fake followers that is acceptable for your influencers.

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