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Beyond the hype building trust and credibility: Influencer marketing ethics and practices

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By Shubham Singhal, CEO & Co-Founder, Dot Media

There is no doubt that the trend of Influencer Marketing has skyrocketed, with social media feeds bombarded with influencer and business collaborations. While this concept is certainly not a new one, over the recent years, the immense popularity of this new age community termed ‘Influencers’ has been a game changer in the marketing landscape. This dynamic industry which was previously valued at $16.4 billion, continues to grow further with a whopping revenue forecast of $143.10 billion in 2030.

Emerging as the most preferred business strategy to do both- forge ephemeral connections with customers and boost sales, Influencer Marketing has left no stone unturned. Nevertheless, it’s pivotal to delve into the ascent of it, since this gigantic community is responsibly becoming the direct communication between brands and audience. Thus, a comprehensive system that has specific guidelines and ethical practices for both influencers and businesses, can go a long way in fostering a transparent community.

Choosing the Right Brands
Influencer-Brand partnerships from the onset itself, need to go beyond the realms of monetary considerations. Diligent efforts need to be made by both brands and influencers to cultivate a relationship that prioritises positive collaborations and respectful communication, to showcase the audiences an absolute genuinity and authenticity. Chasing money can never bring any good, which is why Influencers need to meticulously select and partner only with brands that share similar values, since their community relies on their words and recommendations before making purchases.

Open Communication from Both Ends
Influencer Marketing clutches onto the trust between brands, influencers and their followers. In order to preserve and cultivate this trust, they need to establish a transparent and open communication channel that clearly outlines the expectations and objectives of both parties. Transparency is an indispensable asset when it comes to fostering relationships between brands and influencers, as it is the lifeforce sustaining trust and credibility as well as instrumental in averting customer confusion and misinterpretations.

Learning where to Stop
It’s no secret that there is a limit to everything in life and going beyond that boundary only brings forth repercussions and complexities, which is applicable even for Influencer Marketing. The world of Influencer marketing is characterised by the bond that influencers share with the audience, which is why Influencers must remember that their popularity is solely based on the support and love of their audience, which they have achieved by being authentic and real. Thus, Influencers need to set limits in Influencer-Brand collaborations and never traverse through that murky boundary.

Relatable Integration Instead of Ads
The key element that has made Influencer marketing a reliable source of information over traditional advertising is its seamless ability to integrate within the content, making it all the more relevant and manifold its impact. Instead of just running after quantity over quality, Influencers need to advocate for genuine integration of products or services into the content, showcasing to the audience that it is more than merely promotional advertising. For instance, Dunkin Donuts collaboration with Charlie Damelio has been a superhit because long before Charlie’s fame, she had always advocated Dunkin, making the recent partnership more relatable and genuine.

Educating the Audience
Influencers possess the ability to sway the purchasing decisions of their followers, generating noteworthy traffic and sales for the brand. However, as an Influencer it is your ethical responsibility to not misuse the trust and power that your audience has bestowed you with, instead, be real and educate your audience about the why, basically why they should invest in a particular product or service. Influencer Marketing isn’t merely about promoting products, but in reality, it’s also about delivering valuable information through content that is informative.

Being Responsible and Owning up
Beyond fostering aspirational lifestyles, it is significant for Influencers to discuss the accountability of the content that they have shared. In certain cases, some endorsements can raise audience distrust and scepticism, which is why it’s crucial for Influencers to mitigate such concerns and ambiguity by clearly stating the nature of such endorsements. Given that more than half of the world’s population religiously follows Influencer recommendations, it is the moral responsibility of Influencers to take accountability for their mistakes and address any issues or controversies.

Final Thoughts
There is an absolute certainty that Influencer Marketing needs to be marked and shaped by ethical and transparent practices to cultivate an authentic relationship between brands and Influencers. With a strong grasp on the foundation of their journey, Influencers need to prioritise choosing the right brands, creating open communication channels, crafting content that is educational as well as peppered with sparks of creativity and most importantly imposing restrictions with something that doesn’t align with their individuality.

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