Brands spent an estimated $2 billion on influencer marketing in 2017, but nearly one-quarter of influencer marketing dollars are being wasted on inauthentic content that today’s savvy consumers don’t trust, according to new research by agency Carmichael Lynch unveiled today at Social Media Week in New York.
A trust and authenticity gap
According to the study “The Truth About Influencer Marketing,” more than a third of women (35 percent) think influencers are dishonest when content is sponsored.
However, many influencers surveyed are unaware of this consumer skepticism. More than four in five influencers said their audience considers brand-sponsored content “about the same” as their regular content, and only 1 percent of influencers said their audience responds negatively toward brand-sponsored content.
Even more troublesome for an industry built on trust, 23 percent of influencers surveyed don’t feel they’re able to be authentic with brand-sponsored content. When asked about challenges in working with a brand, 70 percent said a top challenge is the “lack of creative freedom”, but more alarming are the findings that 45 percent said “brands don’t understand my audience.” Even more concerning, 15 percent said, “I don’t like the brand,” begging the question why they’re partnered in the first place.
“Consumers look to influencers for honest opinions, and it’s this trusted relationship that sets influencers apart from ads – it’s word-of-mouth at scale. But trust in the industry has eroded through some high-profile missteps,” said Emily Buchanan, executive vice president, Carmichael Lynch Relate. “Influencer marketing is in a position to thrive, but the industry must drive meaningful change and regain consumer trust.”
Carmichael Lynch reported findings from the research along with influencer evaluation tactics and strategies at Social Media Week today in a session titled “What CMOs Need to Know About the Perils and Future Promise of Influencer Marketing.”
Carmichael Lynch’s 2018 Influencer Partnerships Survey: In October 2017, Carmichael Lynch Inc. via third-party service Toluna conducted an online survey of 121 influencers (bloggers, vloggers and content creators) who regularly partner with brands, in order to determine their perceptions toward sponsored content.
Carmichael Lynch’s 2018 Sponsored Content Survey: In December 2017, Carmichael Lynch Inc. via Toluna QuickSurveys conducted an online survey of 1,058 consumers to determine who consumes influencer content (which includes things such as a blog post, video, podcast and social media post), to understand their perceptions of sponsored content, and to compare their attitudes against our influencer survey. Of the adults who participated in the survey, 561 reported that they consume influencer content. Data is reported at a statistical significance of 95 percent and above.
About Carmichael Lynch IQ
The original research was conducted as part of the launch of Carmichael Lynch IQ (Influencer Quotient), a proprietary approach to influencer marketing developed in a partnership between advertising agency Carmichael Lynch and public relations agency Carmichael Lynch Relate.
Carmichael Lynch IQ does influencer marketing differently, taking a human-centric approach to building relationships between brands, influencers and their consumers. The differentiating factor is in our experience and intimate knowledge of the influencer landscape, brand audiences and how to seamlessly weave paid, earned and owned platforms together to influence consumer behavior.