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Why Authenticity Is A Necessity For Influencers And Brands

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Martha Stewart and panelists talk about the role of social media in an influencer’s life and why authenticity is a necessity.

Who better to stir up the SMWNYC crowd with a tasty discussion of influencer authenticity than Martha Stewart, the ultimate food and lifestyle tastemaker.

Influencer marketing has evolved from a burgeoning, nice-to-have marketing tactic into a must-have strategy for brands. SMNYC invited Stewart and a panel of social media thought leaders’ to examine some of the issues that have also evolved, including how influencer marketing increasingly blurs the line between individual and community.

Stewart, along with Patrick Janelle, Executive Director from Spring Street Social Society and Courtney Spritzer, Co-Ceo of Socialfly, sat down with Stephanie Cartin, Co-CEO of Socialfly to talk about the role of social media in an influencer’s life and why authenticity is a necessity.

The session, “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen? Community vs. Individualism in Food + Lifestyle,” served up unique perspectives on the inner workings of influencer marketing and how brands, businesses, and individuals can partner without compromising their authenticity.

Influencer marketing is having a serious moment and brands are increasingly integrating influencer in their marketing mix. As eMarketer reported in 2017, influencer posts on Instagram nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017. As the tactic swells, the panel offered several takeaways for the audience, including:

Share what you love and save the rest

Janelle said it is crucial for him to not share every aspect of his day on social media. Instead, he recommends using platforms like Instagram to showcase what you aspire to, what you are interested in and what makes you tick. Beautiful images can be a muse for inspiration and as Courtney Spritzer pointed out, “Instagram has become a highlight reel of your life and the most beautiful aspects of your day that are curated.” Instagram stories nows lets influencers get deeper into their daily life – providing audiences with more authentic moments shot from their everyday life. It is a more casual, on-the-fly post.

However, he noted it’s important to remember that social media should remain a destination for fun and not one for criticism.

“We are not journalists,” Stewart reminded the audience. Instead, post what you love and are moved to share with audiences – whether that is a make-up tutorial, wardrobe advice or how to cook a new recipe.

All panelists agreed on limiting time spent on platforms and making an effort to truly enjoy experiences they are posting about. For Janelle, that means taking time before an event to post a photo and then putting his phone away to really engage with friends and be a part of the experience. If an influencer is not living the experience how can they adequately convey it back to an audience?

Never stop learning

Brands want to work with influencers because they have large and engaged followings, influencers gain these massive audiences by being experts in their industries. If influencers truly want to be teachers and experts in their fields, they have to learn how to do the things they post about and continuously stay educated. “If you’re going to saddle the horses you have to know how to handle a horse,” advised Stewart.

For brands, this means working with real experts at half the cost and for influencers, it means interacting with new products that can help sharpen their particular skill set. It always harkens back to being authentic and creating personal moments that cannot be replicated by a traditional advertising campaign.

Recognize the goals of the brand

Influencers know what they like and are trusted by their audiences to find brands that will bring value to their everyday lives. If an influencer is not interested in a product or service they will pass on the opportunity, there is such a thing as “just say no” for influencers, as Janelle pointed out.

Brands should not pursue working with influencers that are not aligned with their bottom line either. There are programs and tools available that let brands identify the right influencer for their campaign. To that, Spritzer identified what brands need to consider when working with influencers; goals of the brand – what are they trying to achieve with this specific campaign, who is the target audience and what is the overall aesthetic?

Luckily there are tools available to help brands come to these answers – ones that analyze demographics and break them down to help marketers make the right decisions. This is when micro-influencers can shine – those influencers who might not have the following of Kendall Jenner but have an extremely targeted, engaged and loyal audience.

Influencer marketing will only continue to grow and the brands that master it and develop relationships with influencers will succeed. In the same breath, for influencers to remain respected experts by audiences they must continue to learn new tricks of the trade and take on projects that are authentic to their brand. At the end of the day, both rely on each other to be true to their bottom lines.

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