In a world of uncertainty, can brands and influencers afford to lack transparency and disclosure? Does disclosing a partnership harm or reinforce the credibility of both the influencer and the brand? Why is disclosure of partnership (besides the legal requirement) important to consumers? If you’ve been asking yourself the questions, you’ve come to the right place because in a few short paragraphs; you’ll have the answers you’ve been looking for!”
It’s not surprising that Influencer Marketing is a popular way for brands to get their message out. When it comes to trusted sources of information, word-of-mouth recommendations always rank highly. Consumers are also more likely to trust those they can relate to and that’s why micro-influencers play such a big role in Influencer Marketing. Consumers follow them because they value their opinion and recommendation on specific subjects.
“According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global survey of trust and credibility, 55% of respondents say, “Individuals are more believable than institutions, and a company’s social media page is more believable than advertising.”
Influencer marketing is now big enough that disclosing partnerships between brands and influencers is a necessity, not an option. Although compliance is growing, there are many examples where it doesn’t happen. There is evidence showing that consumers engage more when there is disclosure and when the post is highly personal and authentic. Twitter partnered with Annalect to research influencers on the platform. This study has revealed some very interesting influencer marketing statistics. For example, 56% of consumers are influenced by their friends and peers on their purchases. The study also revealed that tweets from brands increase the purchase intent by 2.7 times. This is in comparison with the purchase intent of audiences who haven’t engaged with such tweets. When these were coupled with tweets from influencers, the purchase intent increased by 5.2 times in the same study. This is when the influencers generated their own content and disclosed a partnership, rather than sharing the brand’s static content.
With this being said; what defines adequate disclosure? It is no longer sufficient to just tag the brand in sponsored content, due to recent regulatory changes in the Influencer Marketing framework. So here are a couple of tips when it comes to Influencer Marketing disclosure.
- Disclosures should be clear and use widely accepted hashtags such as #sponsored
- Disclosures should be independent of social media network or channel-specific settings (e.g. it is not enough to just use Instagram’s “paid partnership with…” feature)
- In videos, disclosures should be upfront and identifiable
- Disclosures should be made in the language of the endorsement
- Disclosures should be in close proximity to the endorsement
- Disclosures should be specific about the brand, products, and what was received by the influencer
- Disclosures should be clearly communicated
- Disclosures should be written with unambiguous language
But why is all of this so important in Influencer Marketing? We need to look back at the debate around authenticity in order to answer this question effectively. Influencer Marketing harnesses the power of word-of-mouth recommendations, which in today’s world is one of the most powerful concepts to enter the marketing landscape. However, it is only as powerful as its perceived authenticity. All consumers, in today’s day and age, crave authenticity. Influencer disclosure of paid partnerships is certainly one way to remain transparent
Consumers are bombarded with generic advertisements from most brands on a daily basis. I say generic because this is why consumers crave something original, something fresh and new, and something personal. By providing disclosure, the influencer is able to say that even though they are being incentivised, the recommendation is genuine. Conversely, when no disclosure is provided, followers may immediately detect that it is a paid post, and the lack of transparency would impact the credibility of the recommendation.
Another positive aspect of disclosure is through the use of Instagram’s “paid partnership” feature. Studies have shown that using this feature on Influencer posts drives higher engagement and conversions on the post. Again, all the more reason for brands to encourage their influencers to disclose the partnership between themselves and the brand.
The dynamic world of Influencer Marketing will undoubtedly keep changing over the next few years, and we’ve already seen it come such a long way since its inception. This leaves plenty room for many more changes in both its nature, and the regulations governing it. We look forward to seeing the industry continue to flourish yet also become more sustainable in its nature through more stringent regulations.