Why influencer marketing is the death of deceit

Picture from http://www.jamesaltucher.com

How many times have you pulled a fat-free product off the shelf, proud of yourself for making a “healthy” choice? How many times have hunger pangs kicked in as you watched syrup being poured over a pancake stack?

Well, don’t believe everything you see. That fat free product is likely laden with sugar, and that syrup is probably motor oil. You see, for years advertisers have relied on gimmicks to lure us in, fooling consumers everywhere.

To the contrary, influencer marketing provides an authentic forum where YouTubers (i.e. everyday people) can share their favourite products with their subscribers. As Gabrielle Archambault of eos told Inc.edu influencers are yet to attract the scepticism now associated with brands so their involvement creates reach and credibility. For one thing, there’s no way an influencer will sit on camera eating pancakes smothered in motor oil (unless that’s their strange talent), pretending it’s the most delicious maple syrup ever!

Furthermore, Archambault maintains that:

“As a brand, it’s one thing to tell consumers “I’m cool”, it’s significantly more powerful to have a person that a consumer admires to say your brand is cool.”

Here we profile some contrast advertising scandals and social media triumphs to show just why influencer marketing is the death of deceit.

Greenpeace vs Kit Kat

This is the tale of how a corporate juggernaut was unceremoniously reprimanded by the one of the world’s greatest environmental influencers. In 2010, Greenpeace embarked on a YouTube video campaign alerting consumers to the fact that the palm oil used in Kit Kats was threatening Indonesian orangutan habitats. Greenpeace’s goal — for Kit Kat to rethink its supply chain.

The beauty of the campaign lay in the way Greenpeace used the hallmarks of the Kit Kat brand to spread their vital message.

No stranger to controversy, Nestle should have been equipped to handle this. But the major difference between this and their milk powder scandal of the 1970s was the internet. Whilst Nestle were initially able to remove the video from YouTube, it just resurfaced on Vimeo. As was noted on Post Control Marketing:

“Customers were revolted [at] Nestlé’s action, not only the usage of palm oil but even more so at their attempt to take down the video and control the information users could have access to. As a consequence consumer pushed back; they shared the video with [their] friends through social network reposting the video which eventually ended up back again on YouTube.”

Bowing to the power of social media, Nestle eventually relented and agreed to Greenpeace’s campaign demands.

Final score

Greenpeace & the Environment 1 — Nestle & deforestation 0

Lies, damned lies and airbrushing

No one will be shocked by our saying that we live in an image obsessed society. Nor would anyone be shocked by our noting that we are driven by unattainable goals of perfection. Why? Blame the powers of Photoshop.

Whilst magazines have long been airbrushing celebrity flaws, advertisers too have relied on Photoshop to boost claims about the effectiveness of their products.

As British lawmakers observed following an Olay airbrushing scandal, the problems with advertising in this manner are two-fold; not only are you engaging in misrepresentation, you’re also creating a culture that fosters unhealthy body image.

That’s why the make-up tutorials on YouTube are so refreshing. For one, most of the videos are filmed in the influencer’s humble bedrooms and are uploaded without any recourse to fancy editing suites — just look at Nisha Ezzati’s videos. There’s no sorcery or trickery involved; what you see of these products is what you will really get if you go out and buy them yourself. Thus, the reviews are honest, relatable and credible.

Lessons for brands

As the various advertising scandals have taught, brands must focus on marketing themselves in a manner that is accountable and credible. And by creating a personal connection with their audience, influencers can do just that.

Of course, influencer marketing campaigns must be careful not to fall prey to the same traps — brands must ensure that they maintain transparency at all junctures. This issue was brought to the fore when Essena O’Neill famously quit Instagram, leading Sarah Penny to tell the Festival of Marketing:

‘It’s up to brands to maintain a level of trust with their consumers. They have to set out their objectives and contract it with the influencers they are working with.’

According to Penny, one of the ingredients in cementing that trust is

“understanding if they [influencers] will actually be the right fit for your business.”

Herein lies the beauty of SushiVid. Not only do we allow your brand to connect with influencers, we also provide you with all the vital information to help you make your decision. By displaying statistics, reviews and engagement rates, our site helps you determine whether the influencer will help you to reach your target demographic. You want consumers to believe what your YouTuber is saying.

If you’ve not already hired an influencer, it’s time to embrace the future of digital marketing and lend credibility and transparency to your brand.

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