'Authenticity crisis' for influencer marketing as poor partnerships backfire

A lack of trust in influencer marketing has sparked an "authenticity crisis" with much work ineffective or even counter-productive, according to a new report by PR firm Splendid Communications.

'Authenticity crisis' for influencer marketing as poor partnerships backfire

The report, created in association with marketing researcher OnePoll, surveyed 2,000 UK adults, who each follow at least one influencer on social media. It aims to identify the effects that influencers have on consumer purchasing decisions.

The results show 43 per cent think influencers are "often inauthentic" and work with brands "they don't believe in", while a further 52 per cent assume if an influencer promotes a product, they have been paid to do so, regardless of whether they have or not.

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The report also reveals that just over five per cent feel influencers are genuine and only promote brands and products they truly believe in.

Elsewhere, 61 per cent admitted to unfollowing an influencer who worked with "inappropriate" brands or who endorsed too many products.

This is despite three in five saying they would consider an influencer endorsement as "a compelling call-to-action" if they thought the content was authentic.

The report says: "Influencer marketing is the purest form of product endorsement and with the right influencer a brand can truly benefit from the advocacy. However... paying someone to publicly support a brand that they don't believe in, or a product they don't really use, negates the advocacy entirely. Advocacy must be earned and crafted to be genuinely authentic."

Also see: 'A unique form of ad fraud': agency creates fake influencers, wins sponsorship deals

In response to the findings, Splendid Communications creative strategy director Alex Clough said the report showed people were "exhausted" by marketing.

Clough said: "They are overwhelmed by ads and brand messages, trust is low and now ad-blockers help them avoid it altogether.

"Influencer marketing can be very effective in addressing all of these challenges, but as brands invest record sums in influencers we are seeing the rise of shortcuts, bad practice and clumsy, inauthentic collaborations. When you look at recent high-profile incidents, such as the now infamous Fyre Festival, it's clear influencer marketing is in an authenticity crisis."

To combat this, Clough said influencer marketing activity with more direct calls-to-action would encourage consumers "to do, buy or take part in something". 

Read next: Audi joins Adidas and BBC to refute claims it worked with 'follower-buying' website

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