February 10, 2021
Last Sunday was the Super Bowl. And like every year, it set the stage for Super Bowl ads – precious airtime that brands pay through the nose to get.
But it is not the traditional ads that caught our attention. It was the influencer inside the stadium that had our eyes glued. It took years, but it finally proved once and for all that influencer marketing works really damn well!
Which creator was it? Dude With Sign – the man who shot to fame during the lockdown. His content idea was not original per se, but he used it with ingenuity and oodles of fun.
Why did he gain our and the world’s attention? Because the sign he held up during the Super Bowl was an #ad for Budweiser Lemonade Seltzer. The tagline of the brand was on the other side of the sign.
There is nothing wrong with creating branded content. Every creator does so, particularly in this economy when all of us are scrambling to earn some moolah.
What pinched people is his lack of transparency. His content gives no indication when it is sponsored, which makes him look like a sell-out. And that is why his content now feels like hypocrisy and one that forced relatability.
We are not here to debate the actions of the creator. We leave that to Redditors on this subreddit. What we want to talk about is how creators can bring more transparency to influencer marketing.
It is the most underrated aspect of the industry and yet the most sorely needed. When brands are not transparent with customers, they fail to build lasting relationships. When creators are not truthful with the community, they lose their power and walk the same path the Dude With Sign is currently – bleeding followers.
So, how does a creator be more transparent?
The first step is obvious. Every time you collaborate with a brand, disclose it to your community. It doesn’t matter if it is paid post, a discount for brand mention or a review for a free product.
Tell your audience how the brand was involved. It builds trust. Rather if you are honest that it is a paid post, followers are more likely to believe your review. Why? Because you are explicit about it.
Few creators follow this rule, but those who do reap its benefits.
The second step is to put as much effort in your non-sponsored content as you do with your sponsored. Creators feel that keeping a balance between branded content and organic content on your feed is sufficient.
Although it is vital not to have too much paid content on your social page, the quality matters as much as quantity. Think about it from the audience point of view.
Every paid post has the best flat lays and professionally shot video. But every non-sponsored post is a basic static picture with a quickly typed out caption. To the viewer, it looks like you are more worried about getting brand attention than building and helping a community.
Why would they follow you if that was the case? So, make sure all your organic content is just as kicka$$ as any other.
The last step creators can take to bring more transparency is to avoid too many paid reviews. When a creator’s feed is filled with paid reviews, the trust level in the audience decreases.
So, even when you are genuinely talking about a product without getting any compensation, they still feel it is paid. The only way to not look biased on all your posts is to limit the number of paid reviews. Keep in mind you being fair is as essential as your community knowing that you are fair.
How do you reduce the number of paid reviews without scorning brands? You ask them for other deliverables. Instead of a review, you can create:
- A Reel on styling
- A first impression content
- A breakdown of the product
In case you earnestly want to review a product, buy it yourself. Try it out and then share your opinion. It makes you a brand advocate and advocates have more power than influencers and creators.
Transparency in influencer marketing is needed NOW!
Brands and followers alike are clamouring for more transparency in influencer marketing. It is up to creators to offer it. When you start being open, honest and genuine with every content you create, you build trust with your community. And that reels in more brand collaborations and followers.