Influencer marketing has been slowly and steadily taking over our social media feeds for the past couple of years. I'll confess, I make probably half of my new product purchases off of influencer marketing in Instagram. It makes my life so much easier to rely on a few people whose taste and vetting I trust to tell me what they're trying and how they like it.
And marketers are betting on that.
Word of mouth has long been the most effective marketing tool there is. You trust someone's experience more than the brand itself. The best word of mouth is earned. But influencer marketing turns this into a paid, or sponsored opportunity.
When most of us think of influencer marketing, we naturally have a positive reaction. Someone recommending a product, paid or earned, is effective.
But what happens when brands go rogue and pay influencers to trash their competitors?
The FTC has cracked down on paid sponsorships, requiring influencers to label their sponsored content as such, but sponsored take-downs have flown further under the radar.
It's hard to say what we can do about it, but it doesn't take a marketing guru to tell you that this is a massive risk for your brand. Brand trust is built over time, and destroyed (or eroded) quickly. Being shady (a technical term) on social media comes with massive risk to your brand. And is simply unethical.
It can be tempting to take shortcuts, but building a strong product and earning your customers' trust is the most reliable way to ensure you're building a brand that will endure.