Written by Global Business Development Director, Tom Cornish | 5 November 2021
Authenticity and respect should underpin everything we do in the influencer and content marketing space. When we talk about influencers for good, we focus on how we can work with influencers to spread positive messages, behaviours and principles to deliver campaigns with authenticity and respect at the forefront.
Why is it so important?
Influencer marketing works because influencers can connect authentically with audiences. If brands undervalue or compromise that authenticity and mutual respect, they run a major reputational risk.
There are countless examples of disastrous influencer campaigns which have either been a result of an inauthentic message or a symptom of treating influencers or their audiences without enough respect. This is damaging when an influencer is talking about a brand’s product, but it’s far worse when advertisers try to use influencers for good. Talking about a real cause that matters to influencers and their audiences means the stakes are higher than ever before.
Start by doing ‘good’ for influencers
The surest way to mitigate this risk is to start by doing “good” for influencers. When using influencers to tell an authentic and respectful story, we must treat them with the same authenticity and respect; getting your house in order is a vital first step. If we treat influencers in the right way, we’ll build a foundation to create powerful cause-related campaigns and generate a mutually beneficial relationship between the brand, the creator and the audience.
- First, set policies in place which treat influencers equitably and inclusively; being unbiased and committed to fairness are central to building a strong relationship.
- Next, it’s important to give those creators the space to be themselves – a process, which is not only the right thing to do, but has the added benefit of generating better results.
- Then, we need to commit to listening. If advertisers want to use influencers for good, they must try to understand their experience. Audiences will notice if a brand’s communications don’t align with what influencers are saying. Follow their lead; if you want to use them to inspire an audience, then allow them to inspire you too.
Embrace diversity in selection
It’s not just the ethical thing to do. Embracing diversity in selection has another major benefit: greater diversity generates better content and unlocks stronger performance.
At INCA, we work with thousands of creators each year and we know that the best campaigns are those in which diverse stories are told. It helps advertising work better for everyone. Diverse selection is a great way for brands to live up to their commitment to responsible investment – if advertisers want to support more diverse ownership in the businesses they partner with, what better way than to work with a diverse group of creators?
Representation is a hugely important factor to consider. Having diverse representation can have a major impact in consideration and purchase intent. According to WPP’s ‘Belonging and Inclusive Marketing Playbook’, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+, Black and Millennial consumers say that representation in ads has a major impact on their likelihood to purchase a product or service.
But representation isn’t just about optics. Diverse creators telling a homogenised brand story is a waste. The goal is giving them the creative freedom to represent their own experience, telling diverse stories around a common theme.
Once we’ve built the foundation of good practice and established a respectful relationship with creators, where they have the space to be their authentic selves, we can start thinking about activating campaigns which really use influencers for good. The better the foundation, the more creative and innovative exploration brands can do with influencers.