User Auth: Attributes of Authentic Influencer Partnerships

Each day, a handful of articles and blog posts hit my inbox containing information about the phenomenon of ‘influencer marketing.’ Think pieces about “best practices” or “easy steps” of the tactic are published regularly, and often regurgitate the same 4 or 5 points of emphasis. Somewhere among those points, generally step 1 or 2, the importance of identifying key or authentic influencers is highlighted.

Searches of “influencer marketing” on Google.

While determining which individual best represents a brand’s identity is often the first or second step in the process of running a campaign, it is often the most burdensome stage for marketers. For this reason, dozens of tech platforms have been created to aid the process of pinpointing experts and creators for social media activations.

While many agree that authenticity must be prioritized as a pillar of influencer marketing, how marketers define the term has evolved to become a talking point within the field.

At Thuzio, we segment derivatives of authenticity into three categories: the creator’s typical content style or nature, audience interest or brand affinity metrics, and by organic interests of the influencer. Understanding these three key elements prior to engaging in influencer marketing often leads to increased brand exposure and overall campaign success.

So how do we examine each of these three classifications of authenticity?

The first linchpin of authenticity is understanding the typical content style of the creator, but this does not simply mean working with a fashion influencer if you are a clothing brand or working with a fitness influencer if you are a sports drink brand. This largely encompasses the nature of their content itself. How are their videos/posts generally structured — does he or she typically post product reviews, vlogs, hauls, skits or some other form of content?

As a brand, it is imperative not to alter the general structure of the creator’s content. When working with a creator, if the audience can easily identify the post itself as being branded (without seeing a notation of sponsorship) it generally suggests that the post itself was inauthentic in some way. From the perspective of the marketer, take a step back and let the creator create. Do not insert yourself into the creative process and risk contamination of the influencer’s work.

The next derivative of authenticity lies in audience demographic metrics. Over the last few years, brands and publishers have urged social platforms to provide them with a sense of who they are speaking to. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have all released audience insights metrics for users that allow marketers to augment their content to specific groups of people. An ancillary effect of providing this information to brands is that marketers now have the ability to analyze who influencers connect with.

Brand and interest affinity analysis of Bethany Mota’s followers

Demographics such as follower location, age, gender, and ethnicity can all be inferred by social platforms. Other items such as interest and brand affinities can also be digested based on who individuals follow, the sentiment of their posts, and what they talk about. One reason why influencer marketing is a highly regarded tactic is due to the ability to reach hyper-targeted groups of individuals with a specific, tailored message. When selecting a creator to work with for an influencer marketing campaign, it is important to identify the organic interest & brand affinities of his or her audience.

The final attribute of authenticity lies with with organic interests of the influencer. While this seems like an obvious notion or that an influencer would most likely share content about what they are interested in, this is not always the case. Many creators have ulterior hobbies or interests that don’t necessarily fit within their content genre, but highly engaged followers of the individual would know about.

One example of an organic personal alignment would be that YouTube star Jenna Marbles maintains a vegan lifestyle. While this wouldn’t necessarily be evident upon scanning over her social feeds, her core group of followers know this fact to be true and thus would potentially find a partnership between Marbles and a vegan/veggie based product to be, you guessed it, authentic.

While there are multiple ways to view or validate the concept of authenticity of an influencer marketing campaign, one cannot argue its importance for the long term viability of the industry and the overall success that marketers see when working with digital creators.

Russ Wilde works on the Product Strategy and Operations team at Thuzio. Thuzio 360 is a SaaS platform that brands and agencies use to identify influencers for marketing campaigns. To contact him, please email ‘rwilde@thuzio.com.’ Follow him on Twitter at @RussWildeJr.