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Ethics in influencer marketing

The line between mere advertising and personal experience-based recommendations?

With the rise of social media, a new “tool” has emerged in the landscape of promotion tactics. Influencer marketing is designed to provide an access to users from another angle whole carrying immense value. It about the recommendation of people, and not just anyone, but those whom the target audience trusts.

Brands and businesses widely use the influence of popular individuals to promote their products or services. Although this strategy offers great potential for success, it also raises many questions. In this blog, we will take a look at this important promotional tool through the lens of ethics in marketing and explore the key principles that should guide influencers, brands, and consumers in ensuring the long-term viability of this form of marketing.

It’s noisy on social media. We are flooded with advertisements, both from traditional sponsored posts or ads, and influencing. And naturally, the first question that arises is: What should I believe?

In just one week as a follower of a popular person, we can receive recommendations for two completely different skincare routines. From another, a recommendation for using a food delivery app, and then just a few days later, a confession about spending 2-3 hours daily preparing home-cooked food, from a certain organic food producer.

All of this, besides creating a very deafening noise, also creates complete confusion and, as a result, diminishes the trust of influencers’ followers. Instead of helping, it actually harms the brands that opt for this type of promotion.

Of course, out there are also influencers who carefully choose the brands they collaborate with, as well as brands that adequately select influencers based on shared values and compatibility.

social media advertising influencing

Authenticity and Consistency: The Foundations of Ethical Influencer Marketing

One of the foundations of ethical influencer marketing is authenticity.

I place this buzzword at the forefront because it is probably the most important aspect of this type of marketing since the essence of this form of promotion is personal experience-based recommendations. If the influencer’s positive experience with a product or service is absent and yet they engage in promotion, it completely loses its meaning, as well as credibility.

Influencers should maintain their unique voice, values, and style, ensuring that the promoted products align with their personal brand and image while resonating with their audience, which overlaps with the target group of the brands they promote.

Authenticity establishes a strong connection between influencers, brands, and audiences, fostering trust and loyalty.

Informed decision-making involves impartially and objectively presenting a product or service, while subjectively sharing the impression of personal experience in choosing a specific brand.

Influencers who value their credibility and ethics create content that’s consistent.

They understand the importance of informed decision-making, which involves conducting adequate brand analysis and assessing the quality and relevance of products. By providing accurate and reliable information, influencers empower their audience to make informed choices, promoting the real benefits of the endorsed brand’s products backed by personal experience.

Sponsored content: Transparency in influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has thrived due to its ability to blur the lines between personal recommendations and paid advertisements. However, transparency should always be present, and influencers should respect the rules of social media, clearly indicating when the content is sponsored. Whether it is through explicit disclosure in captions, the use of hashtags like #ad or #sponsored, or specific labels such as “Paid Partnership,” it is crucial to avoid any confusion and maintain the integrity of influencer recommendations.

money trust

Responsibility: Building trust

Ethics in marketing and any form of promotion require a sense of responsibility from both influencers and brands. Influencers should be cautious when selecting brands to collaborate with, ensuring alignment with their values and the interests of their audience. On the other hand, brands should carefully choose influencers for partnerships, conducting research on their past activities and partnerships to identify any inconsistencies that could be permanently damaging to the brand.

The moral compass extends beyond the realm of marketing. Influencers should be aware of their content and avoid tactics that can deceive and exploit their audience solely to increase sales. It goes without saying that these methods are a way to damage an influencer’s reputation, erode trust, and ultimately harm the entire industry.

Conclusion: Principles for long-term success

Influencer marketing has become an incredibly powerful part of marketing, providing brands with unique opportunities to reach their target audience through the influence of individuals who already have established trust and emotional connections with their followers.

These are the key principles:

  • Authenticity
  • Consistency
  • Transparency
  • Responsibility

sara jo

FOTO: Sara Jo instagram profile

By implementing these principles, a mutually beneficial relationship based on shared values and goals can be built, allowing influencers and brands to create highly influential and impactful campaigns.

As an example, we can look at the collaboration between the brand Adidas and Sara Jo. This collaboration started 5-6 years ago, and throughout that period, all four principles have been evident. The influence Sara has, when it comes to positioning and promoting the brand within the target audience, is undeniable. You won’t see her wearing sneakers from any other brand, and she skilfully combines stage outfits with athletic details that is always under the Adidas label. She has significantly influenced fashion trends and styling among younger audiences, always successfully incorporating the brand as a “must-have.”

The success of influencer marketing is reflected in long-term campaigns and the values that are genuinely upheld, which convince the target audience of the authenticity of the recommendations and evoke the desire to belong to that chosen tribe. Otherwise, individual social media channels become nothing more than evolved television commercials that reach a slightly more targeted audience compared to traditional TV ads.

At the end of the day, honesty and integrity will always be values that resonate with the audience in the long run.

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