Selling online only came into existence a few years back and has its unique challenges, one such being buyers having no way to experience the product except seeing it on a device screen. No wonder, brands have been looking for novel ways to convince them about the value they offer.
Influencer marketing is one of the tactics that have become very popular with brands to propagate their products and compel the audience to buy them through positive word-of-mouth marketing.
This tactic capitalizes on the trust that the buyers have on the industry-leading influencers, which is perhaps much more than that they have on sales-hungry brands. However, as trust becomes the currency of the internet today, it seems that buyers are becoming selective with placing it in influencers as well.
In these circumstances, things have changed considerably on the influencer marketing front. A recent survey has come up with surprising stats that only 4% of people trust what influencers say, which rings alarming bells for influencers and brands alike. There is a need to delve deeper into the facts that are presenting influencers in such negative light because undoubtedly, influencer marketing has been a proven tactic for years now.
Further, it is essential to understand whether the situation is as bleak as this survey seems to indicate and if there are ways to set things right. Let us try and make things more transparent.
Why influencer trust appears to be dwindling?
Before highlighting the negatives, it is always good to talk about the positives. Despite the discouraging figures mentioned above, it is an accepted fact that people still turn to industry experts for their advice, reviews and recommendations before they shop online. But as the influencer landscape evolves and the shoppers’ mindset gets matured, things in this landscape might need to take a shift.
Let’s look at some of the underlying reasons for the behaviour change.
- The influencer landscape today has become increasingly commercialised to the extent that the lines between sponsorships and authentic recommendations are blurred. Buyers are smart enough to comprehend that influencers may be endorsing products for the lure of free goodies or monetary incentives.
- As the practice of bloggers gathering a bunch of fake followers just to be recognized as niche leaders is on the rise, the traditional trust metrics have been disrupted. Buyers & Brands alike are sometimes not sure whether an influencer is a genuine one or has become so using a shortcut.
- On the other hand, the meteoric growth of some genuine influencers has somehow not worked in their favour. They appear more like a celebrities and brands, making them untouchable. Connections are no longer close and personal, which has a negative impact on trust.
It seems like both brands and influencers have some part to play in this phenomenal change, where some influencers have started to misuse customer trust, some brands have jumped the ship to this trend without giving much thought to strategy and objective behind it.
What can be done to restore trust in the influencers?
Rebuilding customer trust should be a collaborative effort, involving both the influencers and the brands, and will need a step change on how they both approach this medium.
- To start with, brands need to look for a perfect fit to endorse their products. Having the right influencer promoting your brand not only increases the chances of sales revving up but also fosters trust for your brand.
- Audit the influencers before collaborating with them to ensure that you onboard the right ones. Steer clear of the ones that might be a risk to your brand reputation
- Think small and work with micro-influencers as they bring a personalised touch to connections with the audience. They might have a lower reach, but their engagement rates tend to be impressive.
- Both bloggers and brands should focus on long-term associations because they are more authentic.
- Adherence to the FTC guidelines is must for the influencers as non-compliance indicates eroded trust.
Resolving the erosion of trust in influencers is not as unattainable a goal as it seems to be. The key lies in investing in partnerships with trusted influencers with a positive reputation and credibility. With the right collaborations, brands can still rely on influencers to bring exponential growth in their sales and win the trust of the audience.