As influencer marketing (IM) continues to gain traction in comms strategy—and as authenticity continues to be a key challenge for influencer campaigns—new research from IM service Takumi explores the Instagram IM industry’s dynamics in a study of over 4,000 consumers, marketers and influencers across the UK, U.S., and Germany.
The report, Trust, Transactions and Trendsetters: The Realities of Influencer Marketing Today, focuses on four key themes: legislation, authenticity, influence & trust, and creativity & control.
Brands need to be clearer—but not controlling
Marketers outsourcing their creative content generation to social media influencers need to trust influencers as much as they claim to. Although up to 86 percent of marketers say they trust influencers, some brands are stifling the results by controlling the creative process.
Incredibly, two in five (39 percent) U.S. & UK marketers, and over half (55 percent) German marketers want complete control over the caption and visual of an influencers’ post, viewing it as the same as an advertisement they have paid for another channel, such as TV or radio.
What matters most to influencers when working with brands?
- Creative control
- Potential for long term partnership
- Clear brief
On average, less than half (46 percent) of the influencers surveyed trusted brands to work with them fairly and it’s clear that marketers and influencers are wrangling over creative control. Many creators are struggling to work with opaque briefs—and brands are holding influencers to the same quality standards as they their own teams, but without giving influencers the budgets, timescales, and clarity afforded to in-house creative teams.
What’s most important to influencers when working with brands?
Top reasons consumers ‘unfollow’
A third (34 percent) of all consumer respondents credit influencers with purchases made in the past six months, rising significantly to 91 percent of 16-24 years olds in the UK and U.S. Almost a fifth of consumer respondents also trust influencers’ recommendations more than their friends’. But consumers’ trust is easy to lose. Top reasons for unfollowing influencers are:
Industry calls for regulation development
More than a third (37 percent) of consumers trust influencers to clearly signpost paid partnerships, but shockingly, almost two thirds (62 percent) of influencers say they have been pressured by brands to contravene guidelines at least once.
Almost nine out of ten marketers (88 percent) and influencers (87 percent) in the UK and U.S., agree their markets’ regulatory guidelines are clear—but in Germany, this falls to just 52 percent of marketers and 11 percent of influencers being confident about ad disclosure guidelines. Overall, there is strong agreement that these guidelines need further development, with 46 percent of marketers in all three markets responding as such.
How clear are the guidelines on fraud?
“Over the course of 2019, the influencer marketing industry has come under increasing scrutiny, and trust among consumers, brands and influencers across the world is being put to the test. Influencers continue to directly inform consumer purchasing behavior, but consumers are increasingly savvy. Through this research, consumers have made it clear what wins their trust, and what they value; transparency, authenticity, honesty,” said Adam Williams, CEO of Takumi, in a news release.
“Marketers must take a proactive and responsible role in educating about and enforcing correctly labelled ads. Developing and upholding regulations is a shared responsibility,” he added. “This will require good communication with influencers, many of whom are struggling with opaque briefs. Influencers are asking for greater clarity but also want creative licence and the partnerships that can successfully achieve this will be the real winners.”