Insights

Can Influencers Tarnish Your Brand?

Influencers are everywhere and only growing more mainstream. Duke University now has an influencer class at their school that teaches students how to grow their social media platforms, and Kris Jenner is teaching MasterClasses on personal branding.

And while ABC isn’t really airing a reality show called Influencer Lagoon–turns out that was a hoax a few news outlets fell for–Mintel’s “Social Media Trends Report” found that 19% of the US’s 223 million social media users consider themselves social media influencers. If you don’t feel like breaking out the calculator, that’s over 42 million influencers in the US alone.

Marketing and influencers go together hand-in-glove these days, but that doesn’t mean brands shouldn’t be careful with their methods and reputation. With those tens of millions of influencers promoting thousands of brands, something is bound to go wrong. 

Influencers must match your brand’s ethics

One of the ways influencers can damage a brand is by not aligning with their ethics. 

A company’s ethics are more important now than they’ve ever been: according to Mintel’s “Holistic Consumer” report in 2021, 55% of those polled said they are prepared to boycott a company that behaves unethically. Their “Ethics in Food & Drink” report in 2021 found that 74% of consumers polled considered it “unacceptable” for companies to put profits ahead of ethics. 

If consumers see your brand associated with unethical behavior, your brand could take a serious hit. 

While experienced influencers are just as reliable and professional as any other business relationship, it’s still important to vet your influencers thoroughly. Your influencers must be trustworthy, yes, but the other products, services, and personal material they may be sharing should match your brand’s ethics. 

Make sure you’re influencers are following the laws pertinent to marketing on their platform, as well. Many social media platforms make influencers label promotional content, and you don’t want your brand caught up in a violation of those rules.

Beauty influencers are losing consumer trust with shady tactics

Beauty product influencers make up a large portion of the influencer market on social media, from makeup tutorials to hair styling tips, skincare routines and beyond. 

If you’re in the beauty business, the influencers you partner with could find themselves facing harsher restrictions. They may also be seeing a drop in trust from consumers as well. 

How beauty brands are presented and promoted on social media is under scrutiny. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in Korea recently mandated that over 500 online beauty ads be removed or corrected to better match their standards. The UK and the EU have also gone on substantive crackdowns on what kind of claims beauty influencers can make on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

The use of photo and video filters by influencers promoting beauty products has also been banned or heavily regulated in the UK and other jurisdictions as well. An influencer posting an eyeshadow video could hurt your brand if she augmented the photo with even a simple color-saturation filter. 

Consumers are catching on to these tricks as well. The 2020 “Beauty, Personal Care, & Household” global report from Mintel found that 64% of the adults they polled don’t trust beauty influencers. 

Social media users are also finding these tactics distasteful. They want more from brands and their influencers, they want to see them pushing toward an inclusive beauty space. Mintel’s 2022 “Diversity and Inclusivity in Beauty” survey found that 57% of US consumers believe it is the duty of a beauty brand to help remove the stigma of beauty “flaws.” 

Influencers who digitally erase every flaw and make themselves look picture perfect through filters could make your brand seem untrustworthy, unethical, and not inclusive. This is why we have to communicate clearly with the influencers we partner with to ensure they are staying honest and authentic.

Expertise, experience, and a plan can prevent this damage

Going into an influencer relationship can be extremely lucrative for brands, getting their names and products in front of millions of new people. And the trust audiences often have in those influencers cannot be underestimated. 

Marketers just have to do their due diligence before, during, and after their influencer campaigns to keep their brand safe, authentic, and most importantly trustworthy.  Knowing the regulations of the platforms you want to use, and the laws in your jurisdiction can also help keep your influencer promotions from reflecting poorly on your brand. 

To learn more about engaging with influencers, online marketing, or live event marketing, talk to an expert at Inspira Marketing today.


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