Clean-label and health-food brand, The Whole Truth (formerly And Nothing Else) has earned raving praise for their unique new Social Media Campaign, “The Whole Truth-Sayers”. The 5-minute long advertisement features Founder/CEO Shashank Mehta slowly descending into madness whilst trying to navigate the shell-game that has become of Influencer Marketing. The tongue-in-cheek video however is equal parts funny and insightful, having struck a chord with audiences who are finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the bombardments of bought opinions across platforms.
Quite an astute observation expressed through a hilarious gag, this advertisement had us not only laughing, but also deep in thought. Having been bombarded with callously paired brands and celebrities, endorsing anything and everything without a passing thought, our trust in those opinions gradually eroded away. We wanted relatable individuals with verified expertise, offering us honest advice – and thus were born “Influencers”. These weren’t the parasocial relationships we had with superstars, but rather intimate experiences rooted in trust. However, just as the advert parodies, the industry was quickly invaded by the malpractices of the past, with consumers increasingly losing faith in the same.
This 5-minute advertisement and an accompanying somewhat-600-word article, is the first time a brand has stood up against misleading practises normalised in the world of Influencer Marketing. It also made us come to terms with the disconnect of the definition and understanding of the same amongst industry professionals as well as external brands and companies. In essence, we feel it is pivotal for brands as well as Influencers to understand a few key factors whilst strategising collaborations in the future. So, here they are:
Make it authentic
A survey conducted by Influencer.co reveals, 82% agree it is vital for an influencer to disclose their personal use history with any product they are promoting, with another 62% agreeing it is unethical to promote products otherwise. Thus, it is evident how crucial it is for the influencers to actually invest their time in understanding and/or experiencing the product or service they are endorsing, as well as preserving the authenticity expected of them when presenting their opinion.
Remember, it’s a collaboration
Each influencer brings to the table an unique tone and aesthetic – a distinct quality which got them their follower base in the first place. Audiences are extremely perceptive of this voice, with overtly sanitised scripts causing more harm than good. Thus, as a brand, it is crucial to respect each influencer’s individuality and to allow them to exercise creative control over their content, for it to feel organic and original. So keep in mind, the best results can be found only through a respectable and shared strategic input.
Don’t seek millions
Mega influencers often blur the line between an “influencer” and a “celebrity” – making it nearly impossible for them to personally interact with their audience. Smaller influencers however, stick to their niche, sharing a certain level of intimacy with their followers. Habitually responding to DMs and comments, they serve as a better spokesperson for any brand, leading to actual conversions. It is also likely for them to receive fewer collaboration requests, offering more breathing space to the exposure created for your brand.
This isn’t to say mega influencers don’t bring anything to the table. The higher production values, greater reach, and quality content ensure ideal advertising material for the future. This distinction depends on the requirements of your campaign, but keep in mind, a handle with a million followers will never beat a 100 handles with 10K followers.
Don’t shy away from data
A key ingredient of a healthy Influencer Campaign is transparency – especially when it comes to data, insights, and analytics. Do not hesitate in asking for the right metrics, be it audience demographics, reach, or engagement. This information is pivotal to create optimum exposure for your brand, product, or service. It also allows you to assess the scope of your campaigns, and plan accordingly for the future. There was also the surge of “phoney influencers”, which took a toll on the industry for the past couple of years. An Intrascreener Report estimated $255 million was spent on marketing on accounts with fake followers just in 2019 in the US and Canada. So, it is evidently essential to ensure you have a transparent relationship with your collaborators.
The Long Game
Influencer Marketing is fundamentally different from advertisements and endorsements – it is the process of familiarising a community with a product or service through sustained association. Try creating long-term partnerships with relevant influencers, and use repeat exposures to cement them as regular users and endorsers. This prolonged association is not only more efficient but also more cost effective than one-off exposures.
A successful Influencer Campaign which pretty much encapsulates all of the above points would be the collaboration between TikTok star Charli D’Amelio and Coffeehouse giant Dunkin’ Donuts. D’Amelio has had a well-documented love for Dunkin’ even before she had made her way to TikTok. Just as she was rising up the ladder of most-followed individuals on the app, she even began incorporating their coffee into her videos to help deal with “awkward” moments. Dunkin’ quickly stepped in, collaborating with the social media personality to offer a signature drink “The Charli”. On the surface it might seem like another case of a mega-influencer endorsing a brand, but as her legion of followers would testify, it wasn’t. They were familiar with Charli’s love for Dunkin’, they were actively excited for what would the result of a collaboration would be, and finally, they didn’t have to make do with a video of Charli going nuts for a cup of iced coffee, but rather a unique creation equal parts Dunkin’ and equal parts Charli.
The next time you’re looking forward to an influencer collaboration, rehearse these simple pointers and keep an open-mind – for that is only when you can make the best of the circumstances, for the both of you. All the best, and godspeed.