Currently, more and more businesses are turning to influencer marketing, marketing through a public figure with a large Instagram following, instead of advertising directly to their target audience. This new wave of marketing relies on companies paying influencers to promote their products on their personal Instagram feed, with the hopes that the influencer’s large following will be persuaded to buy the product for themselves. Influencer marketing relies on an influencer’s ability to cultivate trust between themselves and their fans, and subsequently using this trust to sell them a product they endorse.

This tenuous relationship between consumer and influencer is easily exploited, and Instagram influencers need to be wary of alienating their followers by posting sponsored photos with a strong feeling of inauthenticity. The key to authenticity is posting photos that are harmonious with both the influencer and the brand’s image, not overly manicured photos, or else fans will become fatigued by the constant barrage of thinly-veiled advertisements on their Instagram feed and stop engaging with the influencer and their brand.

Influencer marketing is appealing because of its personalized nature, but the security consumers get from knowing that a trusted influencer or celebrity endorses a product quickly dissipates when influencers post advertisements thoughtlessly. The following are some examples of influencers using inauthentic photos or captions to advertise a product to their followers, and subsequently losing their audience’s trust.

Influencers have been caught copying and pasting pre-written captions to their sponsored Instagram posts without editing the template that their sponsor sent them. This shows consumers that the influencer in question does not have a personal relationship to the product they are endorsing, which betrays the spirit of influencer marketing and the idea that a brand can be trusted if an influencer promotes it.

Another example of inauthenticity among influencers are highly staged photos promoting an idealized and unattainable lifestyle, and Instagram users are growing increasingly weary of such posts and responding negatively to them. Sponsored posts on Instagram usually look superficial, highly edited, or even photoshopped, and Instagram’s users are starting to voice their concerns about images that try to pass off perfection as normal or desirable.

This problem epitomizes the average Instagram users’ qualms with Instagram and social media in general: a huge disconnect exists between how users choose to represent themselves vs. their actual lifestyles, leading users to compare their personal lives to idealized, illusory “influencer lifestyles.”

The backlash against these types of influencer posts are characteristic of a larger problem: influencer fatigue. Instagram users are tired of seeing inauthentic pictures promoting a fantasy, and they want to know that the influencer they are following actually uses the product they endorse, instead of merely using it as a prop in their photos or as a quick way to make money. Audiences feel alienated from influencers who they see promoting products that are not harmonious with their image or their message. The remedy to influencer fatigue is authenticity, and companies benefit from authenticity when they tailor their messages to their audience.   

Authenticity is highly important when trying to communicate with your target audience. An audience’s trust, loyalty, enthusiasm, and morale can be won or lost with a single message. That’s why we always keep the voice of the audience in the forefront of our messaging by creating messages that are highly personalized, relevant, and relatable. If your content is genuine and in-sync with your audience, your relationships will soar. If your message strikes the wrong tone, you could lose your audience and have to rebuild that precious relationship again.

What do you think about influencer marketing and the importance of authenticity in communications? Let us know in the comments! 

Image via A Medium Corporation