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You may have recently come across one of today's influencers on your instagram feed, perhaps they were telling you about the benefits of a new hair serum, or showing off their new running shoes with #runbetter. This form of marketing is everywhere on social media, not just limited to instagram. From February 2018 to February 2019, the number of Instagram influencers using the #ad grew by 133 percent, slowly leading to a shift in audiences perceptions of many high profile social media accounts.

If you don’t know now, what rock have you been living under? Influencer marketing is essentially a type of social media marketing that utilises people with large, dedicated social media followings for the promotion of products, services, or brands.

Influencers can be classified into groups depending on their size of followers, but it is important to note that anyone can be considered an influencer no matter how small or large their audience, for brands it comes down to who will be the most appropriate fit for them. Brands who go down the path of influencer marketing usually have one of these objectives; to increase sales, increase brand awareness, or educate audiences on a product or service.

Instagram helps 80% of Instagrammers decide whether to buy a product or service, and users report making a purchase decision based on something that they saw while browsing the app. It plays a huge role in purchase decisions, and marketers should take this into consideration, especially if they’re looking to target youth groups.

One of the biggest mistakes made by brands is the idea that the bigger the influencer, the better the influencer. Of course an account with 2 million followers is going to have far better reach, but the person behind the content may not be as engaging and in line with the brand as an account with 500k followers. The implications of working with a bigger account could include budget wastage, brand misperceptions, and the silent killer - inauthenticity. Brands can also make the assumption that influencer marketing is a fast way to reach audiences, when in fact it is beyond slow. Influencer campaigns need to span across months, if not years, to really solidify their share of voice in the market.

The topic of authenticity is by far the most important conversation to have, and there are many factors that play a part in determining your brand's authenticity benchmarks for influencer marketing. Some influencers don’t like to work with particular products because it makes them look inauthentic, and some influencers churn and burn through products like no tomorrow, you can see in their feed every second post is a sponsored product - this is something to watch out for. Large scale influencers and celebrities often try to hide the fact that their posts are advertisements. They might put #sp to mean ‘sponsored’ amongst a sea of unrelated hashtags to be discreet, or place the product in the background of their content.

Small red flags to look out for can include influencers copying text straight from a brand’s website, diverting from their usual tone of voice or feed colours when posting sponsored content, and aggressively flagging content as an ad, such as *AD* or *AD BREAK*.

There is a reason inauthentic posts don’t resonate with audiences, it’s the same feeling you get when you know someone is lying to you. If an influencer speaks about a product or service that audiences feel is not something they genuinely care about, then they’re put off. Audiences will revolt if they think that their loyalty and trust towards an influencer is being taken advantage of, revolt against both the brand and the influencer. Consequently this can do more harm than good for marketers, it takes years to build brand trust within the market, and you don’t want something as simple as fitness influencers promoting a food delivery app to break down this trust.

So how do you choose the right type of influencers for your brand? Spend a lot of time researching, start with a relevant category and work on narrowing down options based on desired following size, authenticity, share of voice, and relevance. Specifically search through accounts past content and look for the red flags. Do their sponsored posts stand out? Are there too many? Do they work with competitor brands? What do their engagement levels look like? Taking all of this into consideration can lead to a highly successful influencer marketing campaign.

Isabella Gray is a Content Manager at Resolve Content.


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