A post #ad world: What next for influencer marketing?

Roughly a 4 minute read by Kate

Influencer Marketing Header

A few weeks ago, the influencer marketing world was dragged into the spotlight by an Instagram ad posted by Scarlett London, advertising Listerine in a ‘morning routine’ photo that many people felt stretched the concept of aspirational content a little too far. Complete with balloons, an empty mug and a plate of pancakes that on closer inspection turned out to be a stack of tortillas, the image sparked a fierce debate over how unrealistic and over-edited content is impacting our view of reality.

While there is definitely a conversation to be had around the increasingly staged nature of Instagram, it also draws attention to the fact that even some big brands are still unsure of how to effectively utilise influencer marketing. As influencer rates increase and the industry is increasingly put under the microscope, it’s crucial that brands learn how to work with influencers to preserve the authenticity we value so highly.

Here are a few of the things influencer marketers can learn from Listerine to make sure our influencer marketing campaigns shine…

Consider if it’s right for your brand

As the influencer marketing trend continues to grow, it’s easy to feel like you need to jump on board for fear of being left behind. But like all marketing channels, it’s not right for everyone. While influencers are easy fits for clothing, travel, interiors and FMCG brands, some industries like healthcare and finance will need to think deeply about how they work with influencers, or if it’s an appropriate strategy for them at all.

Resist seduction by follower numbers

When searching for an influencer to advertise their product, Listerine appear to have prioritised reach alone and gone straight for a famous name with a huge following. However, there are several other considerations which are just as important, if not more so. Brands should pay attention to likes and comments to assess their engagement rate, and take the time to dig deeper into their content with a few questions in mind:

  • Does their content style match your brand’s identity?
  • How well do they integrate paid posts into their content?
  • How do their followers react to their sponsored content, and will these followers want to hear about your product?

Provide clear creative briefs

Taken at face value, the Listerine post that drew so much attention is consistent with Scarlett’s style; her bright colours and incredible backdrops indicate that her fans follow her for inspiration, not realism. The problem arises when the influencer is forced to pretend that balloon bouquets are just as much a part of her everyday routine as fighting plaque.

When setting up a collaboration, it’s important that the brand take responsibility for providing creative guidance on how their product should be portrayed, while also allowing the influencer to remain true to their own style. If this is an impossible compromise, it’s probably not the right fit.

Link influencer marketing into your wider strategy

A quick look at Listerine’s Instagram shows a lack of synchronicity between the brand’s marketing channels; Scarlett tags their Instagram handle and uses a #BringOutTheBold hashtag in the post, but Listerine have only 4 images on their profile and haven’t posted since June 2017. This gives users little reason to follow them, at a time when they should be leveraging Scarlett’s reach to grow their own account.

To get the most out of influencer marketing, brands must consider it as one part of a wider campaign or strategy; the influencer’s content should act as an amplifier for the brand’s own activity rather than the spearhead.

Is the bubble about to burst?

As the bloggersphere shows signs of saturation and consumers become increasingly wary of sponsored content, it’s only natural to question if influencer marketing has an expiration date. But in reality the pressure for transparency merely welcomes a new age; one where brands must focus on long-term relationships with genuine ambassadors of their products rather than one-off partnerships.

Instead of trying to fake authenticity by obscuring sponsored content disclaimers, the future of influencer marketing depends on brands investing time as well as money in building genuine relationships with influencers. When the partnership is right and you’re working together to create content that’s relevant and valuable, customers will engage no matter what.