Consumers are becoming more sceptical about what they see online according to a new report on influencer content.
Although brands spent an estimated $2 billion on influencer marketing in 2017, almost one-quarter of marketing dollars spent on influencers are being wasted on inauthentic content that increasingly savvy consumers do not trust.
The research was carried out by Minneapolis-based marketing communications brand agency Carmichael Lynch Relate.
It conducted an online survey of 1,058 consumers in conjunction with Toluna QuickSurveys to determine who consumes influencer content such as blog posts, videos, podcasts and social media posts.
It wanted to understand their perceptions of sponsored content, and to compare their attitudes against its influencer survey carried out in October 2017.
It discovered that twenty-three percent of influencers surveyed do not feel they are able to be authentic with brand-sponsored content, yet appear to be blind to scepticism.
Only 1 in 100 influencers say their audience responds negatively to their sponsored content. Over four our of five influencers said their audience considers brand-sponsored content "about the same" as their regular content.
Influencers are frustrated with content that they are asked to publish. Seventy percent of influencers said that a top challenge for them is the "lack of creative freedom".
Almost half, 45 percent, said "brands don't understand my audience." Fifteen percent of influencers actually said, "I don't like the brand" which must show across their content postings.
Sponsored content is losing its appeal with some consumers. A third of women think influencers are dishonest when content is sponsored.
There is certainly an authenticity gap that needs to be addressed. In this world where influencers themselves can be robots, authenticity has become more and more important.
The golden rule of influencer marketing should be to keep all messages human in order to regain trust in this era of fake news.
Emily Buchanan, executive vice president, Carmichael Lynch Relate said: "Consumers look to influencers for honest opinions, and it's this trusted relationship that sets influencers apart from ads - it's word-of-mouth at scale.
But trust in the industry has eroded through some high-profile missteps."
Well run influencer driven marketing campaigns can achieve extraordinary results for the brand. When done poorly, brands risk being labelled inauthentic and untrustworthy.
The industry must re-invent itself so that it can regain consumer trust - regardless of marketing spend.
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