It’s a common strategy for brands to partner with social media influencers to persuade their hundreds to thousands of followers to purchase a certain product. People who have a strong presence online create visibility for brands, especially to new ones and have yet to capture their own audience.
Hiring a social media influencer to create content online is, although expensive, can be effective for marketing. They lend their credibility to the brand and provide potential consumers a reason why they need certain products in their lives.
A good social media influencer can increase sales after posting a sponsored content on their online pages. However, it may also be risky.
It’s important that brands carefully vet the personalities they work with. Here are the reasons why.
Social Media Follower Farms
It’s impressive to see a social media influencer gain hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. It means that, whenever they post, a lot of people will see the content. However, in reality, it’s easier now more than ever to amass a following, especially if someone is willing to pay.
Some people have thousands of followers, but the majority of them were paid to follow. They can also use bots to make it appear as though they have more followers than what they actually do.
This is why some marketers are weary of hiring social media influencers for their campaigns. The price that a brand pays the personality wouldn’t bring customers because they are actually advertising to bots or fake accounts. It would be a waste of marketing budget.
There are signs that a person’s following isn’t authentic. Usually, the more followers a person has, the higher their engagement should. If they have low engagement numbers — which means the number of likes, comments, and shares a post receives — despite having millions of followers, then it’s likely that they are paying for followers.
Partnerships that Appear Inauthentic
Consumers are smarter nowadays. They are aware that social media influencers are being paid to feature certain brands and products on their pages. So, even if an influencer swears that they love the brand or use the product every day, it may not actually be the case.
It’s important for brands to partner with social media influencers whose style and values line up with theirs. It’s more effective to have a blogger who has been writing about luxury fashion and beauty on their website for years promote designer and expensive makeup brands. However, when they’re suddenly promoting cheap clothing, it will appear inauthentic because their audience know that it simply is not their style.
Influencer May Drag a Brand to Controversies
It’s common to see personalities become a trending topic on Twitter. When someone digs up and posts online a content that shows bad behavior, it can go viral quickly. The social media influencer not only loses followers, but the public’s trust as well.
It can negatively affect the brands that have sponsored them in the past. If a certain personality is known for being rude or offensive, then it’s best that a company doesn’t work with them. Otherwise, the brand will be dragged into the controversy and may experience a decline in sales.
Even if the brand was not aware of the wrongdoing, they would still suffer from the connection. Many brands have had to release their own statements regarding the situation.
Sometimes, the response of the brand also stirs controversies which damages their reputation. In such cases, it’s best to hire a public relations agency to handle the criticism and know how to appropriately address the public.
Being Fined for Not Following Regulations
The impact of social media marketing to the public, especially young generations, has been a subject of discussions for a while now. Now, regulators are stepping in.
Although some states haven’t imposed regulations for paid endorsements, others are now requiring that influencers disclose when they are being paid to promote products. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission requires disclosures be clear and conspicuous. They cannot be hidden in hashtags or behind hyperlinks. It must appear as a written statement on the post itself.
This includes bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, and other social media personalities who are using their influence to promote products. Those who fail to comply will be fined or penalized.
Brands need to be careful when choosing social media influencers to work with. While it may be tempting to work with someone who has a large following, this doesn’t always mean that they will be able to produce the same results as when working with someone who has a smaller, but more engaged following.