Navigating Influencer and Internet Marketing
Marketing can be a great force for good. It can make people aware of products or services that can help with obstacles. It can promote charity and businesses that need extra help. Also, it can outright stimulate the economy by encouraging people to spend more.
However, just like everything else in life, there is a dark side to it. Anyone can purposely create false perceptions about a product, advertise something in a completely unethical way, or outright connect a person with a product they shouldn’t have. This is especially true when a new platform comes into play.
Influencer marketing, a type of marketing that relies on popular online personalities, is new enough for a lot of the shady side of internet marketing to peak through. The level of desperation to make an income online, combined with the inexperience of these influencers, creates a hotbed of issues. Issues that need ironing out through familiarity and legal measures.
As a company that studies and engages in internet marketing, we have a few suggestions for influencers and businesses. Suggestions that can create a strong internet marketing foundation. So, let’s talk about it.
Transparency is Key in Internet Marketing
Internet marketing is particularly susceptible to shady behavior because a lot of interactions are done on a pretty anonymous level. Deals can be made all the time with people not sharing the same physical space. You could go online on E-bay and buy someone’s junk without ever really talking to the person selling it if you want.
While it may work in the instance of small purchases for goods, when a person or a company’s reputation is on the line, it can get hairy. Doubly so if money has involvement in the situation.
So, if both the influencer and the business that wants someone to promote on their behalf want to make this work, they both need to be as transparent with one another as possible.
That does not mean that both parties need to make each other privy to every nuance and detail of the product or service rendered. However, if there is too little or outright false information between both parties, assumption, and falsehoods will replace facts and realistic expectation.
If an influencer is ignorant about what they are advertising, their whole career and reputation are at stake. Also, if a business relies on influencers who do not have a solid platform for advertising or the right target demographic, they are throwing away money to possible con-artists. Or, at the very least woefully undeserving and naive online users.
Both Parties Need to Do their Research
If a company wants someone to act as an influencer for their product, just picking someone popular won’t do. After all, influencers are usually part of a specific demographic. A niche crowd that fell in love with a specific personality, style of presentation, or subject matter.
Influencers bank entirely on their reputation. One that they have to maintain, and update to keep a fickle audience completely engaged.
Professional influencers often know how keep their audience engaged for long periods of time, and know how to conduct themselves in public within professional levels. But there are a lot of people on the internet that don’t have that skill set. Either that or they are far too new to have built one yet. That is why companies should research, thoroughly, who they want to back.
The same can be said of companies. They bank on their reputation but often have enough leeway on policies depending on size and monetary value. There are corporate giants like Disney and Coca Cola, who have a large amount of cultural and legal clout. Enough for them to get away with some things that influencers might not want to promote. Smaller businesses are less likely to get away with it, especially if they hit controversy far too early.
Both parties need to do due diligence through research on the front end.
Have there been any scandals as of late? If so, what was the nature of it? What is their target demographic? Does the product or the influencer content have an age limit? And how are the legalities civilly and federally handled? What internet marketing platform do they use? Is there any third party fees, and communication lines that need to be opened there? What boundaries are there for both the influencer and the company?
It is very tempting to just throw money at the most popular thing on the internet marketing craze and hope that everything works out. However, it would be a great disservice to both parties if they go in blind. Popularity is not as long lasting as a reputation, so careful steps need to be measured.