While the recipe for influencer marketing success may seem as simple as a few sponsored posts and hashtags, engagement—and even more importantly, sales—cannot be expected until both parties integrate identities. In fact, many brands struggle to find consistently profitable results from influencer marketing, highlighting the idea that influencers are not always what they appear to be, despite what their follower counts may say. According to L2’s recent Influencers briefing, 70% of brands use influencers to boost reach and enhance content.
When building an influencer-brand relationship, both parties should prioritize maximizing authenticity. This means knowing each other’s audiences, expectations, and individual voices as brands. This does not mean that brands can only pair up with their influencer proxies, but that the partnership should be tailored to fit both parties’ needs. By staying on top of trends, recognizing what the influencer is best known for, and interweaving aspects of one another’s identity, a brand-influencer partnership can exist and thrive on its own as a strategy for audience growth.
As mentioned in L2’s Influencers Intelligence Report, authenticity is at the center of success for both brands and influencers. Therefore, the cost of rubbing audiences the wrong way is high. This opens the question of disclosure. When conspicuous product placement was the standard, this was less problematic, but the fluidity and transparency of social media creates a new set of rules. Instagram’s introduction of a new way to identify sponsored content aside from the previously subtle tagging or ambiguous captions makes it all the more blurry. How will brands enlist the power of influencers and social media to sell products on a platform that was born out of a love for authenticity?