Influencer marketing is a collaboration not a transaction

There is much debate over the merit of paying to access an audience and how effective this is. Until you step back and really understand what influencer marketing is…

I’ve read many views recently that have debated the value of paying an influencer, their opinion is that once you have paid for an influencer to promote your product, you then lose credibility and ultimately the influencer is no longer influential.

Whilst there is merit in this view if you take examples to an extreme, such as expecting a gaming influencer to promote baby products, or a beauty vlogger to support high-fat foods, in practice this wouldn't work for either the brand or influencer. If the two aforementioned examples where the status quo, then i’d agree, influencer marketing would be a waste of time as neither entity would have any respect for their audience (or integrity), and influence wouldn’t exist.

However, in reality this doesn’t happen for a few simple reasons.

Firstly, it is under the guise that once money is involved in the equation, then that will corrupt all sense of logic and result in the creation of irrelevant content that mean nothing to all involved, especially the end audience. If an influencer did this, they’d quickly be called out as “money grabbing” by their fans, and then almost instantly disappear into the ether after losing the respect of their audience. After all, this respect is what made them an influencer in the first place.

This is why many successful influencers cap the level of “paid for” content they produce to ensure there isn’t a perception that they have sold out and are only doing it for the money.

The other key factor in this conversation is that the if a brand wanted an influencer to create content to promote a product that didn’t mean something to them or their audience, they are wasting their time in the first place. Authenticity is key, if you don’t believe what someone is telling you and you don’t think they are being genuine or telling the truth, then it means nothing. This is why editorial control is vital for an influencer, even if they are being paid, what they create needs be honest and genuine.

Influencer marketing simply needs to be approached as a collaboration, it isn’t advertising nor is it celebrity endorsement. A brand that wants to work with a relevant influencer, with the view of inspiring them to talk about a product to their audience, need to collaborate with them to find the most authentic and genuine way of doing this. Ultimately, this will then generate the most engaging and valuable content that will have an impact and deliver the best results for all.

It’s vital that all involved comply with the various regulations, influencer and brand should always declare when money has exchanged hands as this will ensure transparency. Combine this with keeping editorial control in the hands of the influencer, this will create content that is meaningful and authentic.

You’re not paying a fee to a media company for ad space, you’re paying for the time to collaborate with an influencer that is an expert at communicating with your audience and creating engaging content that makes an impact. The same way as brands collaborate with designers or artists.

Money isn’t the issue, not being genuine, relevant or authentic is. If a brand or product isn’t right for an influencer or their audience, then the collaboration simply doesn’t happen as it is far too detrimental for all.

If they did, we wouldn’t have influencers anymore.