This week we’re talking about Influencers. New age celebrities, filling our timelines with dreamy content and exclusive promo codes. Despite naysayers and eye rolls that occasionally occur when discussing influencers, they have a significant impact on brand awareness and increasing revenue (two words: Kylie Jenner).
By 2020, the influencer marketing industry is forecasted to be worth as much as $10 billion. Today, the world of marketing recognizes these advantages so much that various brands have built an Influencer Marketing division into their marketing strategy. These divisions are important as influencers are lead-generation channels that help market products in an authentic way for brands.
However, there are times when influencer affiliations can hurt your brand, such as the Oliva Jade scandal earlier this year (check out the recap here). Although Sephora had nothing to do with the college tuition scam directly, the multinational cosmetic chain found themselves in an awkward position: either risk guilt by association or terminate their relationship with Oliva Jade. As we all know, they chose the latter, but can we blame them? After all, show me who your influencers are, and I’ll show you who your brand is. Feel free to tweet that!
In a way, influencer marketing acts as a paradox. Influencers serve brands well because they contribute a human factor to advertising, allowing consumers to trust products and services more readily. Though, unless you’re Beyonce, humans have flaws. Therefore, risk is inherent in influencer advertising. Have no worries though; we have compiled a list of tips to minimize liability and manage scandal during influencer partnerships. Because they will happen.
Do your research
Common mistakes brands make when outsourcing an influencer is solely relying on vanity metrics, such as follower count. Just because someone has 100k on Instagram does not mean they will reach your brand’s target audience or that their following is real. It is essential to include preliminary research to ensure the influencer and the brand have aligned values. Study past content, comments, interviews, etc. to spot any potential red flags. Sephora could have never predicted the Oliva Jade College Admission scandal, yet if they monitored her past Youtube content, they would have been alerted with Jade’s offhand comments devaluing education. Would these comments have served as glaring red flag worth terminating their partnership, likely not. To drive the point home, context clues can be found throughout an influencer’s social media, so it’s important to do your research.
When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready
Our digital space society is hyper-reactive and breeds “cancel-culture.” Because of this marketing teams must implement a crisis management strategy. If you’re reading this and thinking, “K. We don’t have one of these.” Here are a few tips. Within the crisis plan, conduct social monitoring and listening techniques on various social platforms that give you a sense of how audiences are reacting to your brand during a scandal. In addition to social listening and monitoring, consider consulting legal counsel to serve as a guide for proper terminology to protect you from other legal implications. After collecting the data and seeking legal advice, form appropriate, transparent responses to address the public. Let this plan be loose and fluid, as not all influencer marketing scandals are the same, and you’ll want to deal with each accordingly.
Honesty is the best policy
Due to the nature of the Olivia Jade scandal, Sephora ultimately released the following statement, “after careful review of recent developments, we have made the decision to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately”. The statement proved necessary to protect the integrity of the brand. When it comes to any PR scandal, honesty and transparency are key. A scandal is not the time to be defensive; it is the time to master the art of apologizing. Apologies should not read as curated scripts, but rather authentic, humble, and remorseful. Consumers have more respect for brands that acknowledge wrongdoings, show remorse, and vow an act of change.
If you have experienced any unfortunate scandals with influencer marketing, spill the tea in the comments down below. If you have any questions or simply want to gain more insight on influencer marketing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.