Influencer marketing can be lucrative, but it's not always ethical. It can be hard to balance commercial interests with ethical practices when using this form of marketing. Here's more information on how to be more ethical with your influencer marketing.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a complex marketing strategy, but in its essence, a brand will partner with an influencer to endorse and mention their products online in social posts and videos.
An influencer is someone who has a dedicated social following and is often viewed as an expert in their niche.
Influencer marketing can be very popular as it helps brands reach large, active audiences, and some can work with multiple influencers at once. To keep track, they’ll often use a social media aggregator.
How Influencers Impact Consumer Behaviour
What an influencer says and promotes has a massive impact on the buying habits of their viewers. Many watchers of influencers have built trust and commitment to their influencers of choice over time, meaning they'll be very loyal to their advice and recommendations.
In addition to how influencers have the potential to affect how and what their viewers buy, this type of marketing has also affected how consumers absorb content online. Over the years, viewers have become smarter regarding influencer marketing, meaning you must make the perfect content to pique their interest and stay relevant.
According to Tom Golubovich, Head of Marketing at Ninja Transfers, "Videos between 30 seconds and one minute perform the best for promoting your brand or products. These are short enough to keep someone's attention while still being long enough to provide value."
What Can Make Influencer Marketing Unethical?
There are many things that an influencer of any size can do that make their marketing efforts unethical. Here are some things to avoid:
- Not disclosing sponsored content
By hiding that a post or video is sponsored, you're potentially misleading your audience, which takes advantage of their trust. You need to be clear at all times about who you're promoting based on free will and based on sponsorship.
- Knowingly promoting poor-quality products
Not only is promoting bad products unethical, but it can also harm your reputation as an influencer in the long run. Although it may be tempting to take a payment and promote a poor-quality brand, it's best to think twice about this, as it can mislead your audience. Plus, being associated with bad products can imply that your content is also poor in quality. If you want to grow as an influencer, associate yourself with the best.
- Targeting vulnerable audiences
Suppose you're an influencer with an audience base of many children or other vulnerable demographic. In that case, you have the ethical responsibility to safeguard them and promote suitable brands that are safe. Promoting brands that may prey on these vulnerabilities is unethical, so consider the product's impact on your audience before committing to a sponsorship deal.
How to Persue Commerical Interests Through Influencer Marketing Ethically
It's not impossible to remain ethical when working as an influencer marketer. To ensure you're doing things correctly, here are a few things you can implement into your strategy and content. The following is part of the best practices for user-generated content.
1. Promote brands you like
As an influencer, the best way to maintain good ethical standing is to be picky with who you affiliate with and only promote brands you see yourself buying from. Do your research and ensure that the companies are reputable and have good customer service and products. If you're proposed by a brand that you find exciting, then it's likely that your audience will too.
2. Promote products that match your audience
As an influence marketer, you must have a good understanding of who your audience is and what kind of demographics they are. This should dictate the kind of brands and products you partner with. For example, promoting gambling will be highly unethical for an influencer with an under-18 audience. Dive into the analytics, see what makes your audience unique, and then market for brands that suit that.
3. Don't exaggerate
If you're talking about sponsored content, ensure everything you say is accurate and factual. You don't want to embellish the truth or exaggerate, as that can mislead your followers. Avoiding exaggeration isn't just great for ethical marketing; it can also make your brand stronger and more reliable. Keep exaggerations away from any social copy and web text if you're developing a website, and instead, stick to facts to help you appear trustworthy to your audience.
Examples of Ethical Influencer Marketing
One of the clearest examples of ethical marketing comes from the video content on Youtube, Instagram Reels, or TikTok. In the modern age, many channels and accounts make money through sponsorships. This means the content creator may pause during a video to provide a sponsored section of the new product. This is ethical by clearly stating that the affiliate company sponsors the video and that they're transitioning to a sponsored segment.
Another great example of ethical influencer marketing is when influencers partner with a product that matches their audience. Partnering with a product that many of an influencer's followers will benefit from and enjoy is excellent from an ethical standpoint and can also help the product succeed.
To stay ethical, many influencers will only recommend products that match their brand and audience. As a result, Jerry Han, CMO of PrizeRebel, states, "You can't expect the media to want to showcase your business on their own accord… Persuade them as to why your company is the best fit for their coverage."
By making it clear that content is sponsored and by only partnering with influencers that suit your product's target audience, you'll be able to stay ethical and succeed with your marketing strategies.
As an influencer or brand, you must be careful to ensure ethical marketing practices. By following the guidelines outlined above, you should effectively balance commercial interests with genuine recommendations. Although tricky, ethical influencer marketing is possible if you put in the thought and consideration.