Undoubtedly, you’ve seen a popular social figure endorsing a brand and questioned how he or she agreed to that sponsorship. Whether it contradicts their public persona or doesn’t jive with his or her lifestyle, you can sense when someone is promoting something they haven’t actually used. The inorganic feel of these kinds of endorsements rings hollow with most audiences. It’s awkward, uncomfortable and makes us question the motive of both the endorser and the brand.

It seems intuitive to say that authenticity is essential to supporting a company’s reputation but surprisingly, many people get caught collaborating with influencers who miss the brand’s intended target. Often, marketing professionals fall into this trap because they’re zeroed in on paying well-known experts to publicize their brand and don’t consider whether or not the influencer is suitable. Fixating on soneone with a high number of followers or site visits can be tempting, but don’t let yourself make that mistake; what’s more important is the audience your influencer interacts with and how that audience relates to your content. When a social figure collaborates with a brand that aligns with his or her expertise, the audience is more likely to trust the company. Authenticity transforms influencer marketing from a forced advertisement into a two-way conversation.

Keep It Real

Influencers and consumers agree that authenticity is one of the most effective tools for brand collaboration. Influencers speak to a niche audience that cares about their expert guidance on a specific subject; followers perceive influencers’ opinions to be informed and true. Anyone can get paid to promote a company; but following an influencer means you want his or her honest opinion on topics relevant to a certain industry. This idea is ultimately what makes authentic influencer placements or collaborations so effective at eliciting peer-to-peer action.

When an influencer partners with a company that aligns with their personal or professional goals, consumers are more likely to accept their opinions as fact; they believe that person trusts the brand and promotes or mentions it as a courtesy to their like-minded followers. Presumably, the influencer is speaking from direct experience with a brand that coordinates with his or her interests. Influencers use this transparency to build their own legitimacy within the industry and to create a sense of trust with their audiences, allowing influencer marketing to be utilized as an effective communication tool.

When Authenticity Disappears

When an influencer promotes a business that doesn’t align with his or her values or expertise, the consequences can be severe. Because the market has become so inundated with paid endorsements, audiences are developing a keen eye for inauthentic support. When your target consumer can sense that an endorsement doesn’t align with an influencer’s are of speciality, the consumer may not trust the brand because the promotion doesn’t seem candid or sincere. This has a negative impact on both the brand and the influencer; if an audience perceives that an influencer “sells out,” they no longer respect the individual’s opinions on industry trends. On the client side, the consumer may perceive that your brand is deceptive because paid publicity guarantees a positive review instead of an honest one. In short, partnerships with influencers that yield genuine relationships are far more valuable to a brand than a paid promotion from a figure with a robust social following.

For example, you wouldn’t expect to see an edtech company partnering with a fashion influencer; even if that individual had thousands of followers on social media, the endorsement would fall on deaf ears. At best, audience members would ignore the placement; at worst, they have a negative lasting impression of the tech company because they perceive them as desperate for publicity. It makes much more sense for a journalist who specializes in technology or education to discuss the company with his or her audience instead – even if that means publicizing to a smaller group of interested people. Quality leads are more impactful for a brand in the long run than a large quantity of uninterested followers.

Maintain Your Authenticity

To make sure you’re connecting with influencers who give your brand legitimate support, follow these tips:

  • Find influencers whose interest and expertise align with your company. Seek out individuals who are likely to partner with your brand and utilize its services. Often, experts in smaller areas who have a much more concentrated impact on his or her audience will be most effective in spreading your message.
  • Follow and engage with your potential influencers before reaching out for a collaboration. Once you have identified influencers in your industry, follow them on social media, read and share their content, and engage with their posts to familiarize yourself with their tone and messaging. Showing influencers you’re familiar with their work will yield a higher chance for collaboration.
  • Minimize the number of restrictive guidelines you place on content. When collaborating with influencers in your field of interest, don’t be intimidated by the lack of control over content they produce. Organic, honest material will resonate more with audience members than scripted posts.

Maintaining authenticity with influencers can go a long way in increasing your marketing campaign’s effectiveness. To maximize your brand’s impact in the social atmosphere, be sure your content is well-placed, genuine and honest.

Learn more about how Influencer Marketing can have a great impact on your tech or B2B organization.

Read more: Startups Market on a Budget with Influencer Marketing

Read More: The Essence of Authenticity