What is the number one reason brands partner with influencers? Authenticity.
Influencers are the opinion leaders in a two-step flow concept – from brand to influencer, and then influencer to consumer. Influencers can speak to audiences anywhere from 5,000 to 10 million people, and for them, being authentic is an essential trait for their business.
The authenticity of an influencer is usually evaluated by the influencer’s content quality and consistency. How do followers perceive the content? For instance:
- Does it feel professional and flawless, or noobish and flawed?
- Does the influencer post one topic, or randomly post about any subject?
- Is the style consistent?
And what happens when an influencer decides to go in a whole new direction?
We have been tracking some notable influencer transitions that showcase authenticity in a whole new way.
Star influencers: People like you and me?
Some successful influencers have added second channels on Instagram to post the exact opposite of the perfect picture.
German model Stefanie Giesinger inspires more than 2 million followers with her daily dose of flawless content. Well, almost flawless if you consider the following picture.
Her second channel Steffka2 has almost 100,000 followers. The supermodel wants to prove that the perfectionism on Instagram is not real, and that she is flawed just like everyone else.
Some photos are clearly staged but some are candid pictures. No matter how the pictures were taken, the blogger wants to show that she too can make a fool of herself.
While some could argue these less professional photos reflect poorly on the pictured brands, her fans think otherwise.
Fans still want to know where they can buy the products the German vlogger promotes.
The influencers are more active on their professional accounts, but by having two accounts, they maintain their professional influencer image and also prove that they are just like everyone else.
What happens when an influencer pivots?
What if an influencer changes direction entirely? For (former) fitness blogger Louisa Dellert, her shift was a clear change in priorities. In one of her photos she writes,
I am done. I don’t want to be a fitness blogger any longer
She admits that the urge of perfection on Instagram made her sick.
View this post on Instagram
Ich mache Schluss. Ich will kein Fitnessblogger mehr sein. Raus aus der Oberflächlichkeit (nicht auf das Wort „Fitnessblogger“ bezogen). Raus aus der Experten Rolle und rein in die normale Lou. Die Lou die gerne läuft, auf ihren Körper achtet, Sport macht, weil es ihr gut tut und ihr Ding macht. Die nachdenkt. Die über den Tellerrand hinausschauen möchte. Meine Gedanken auf YouTube: Louisa Dellert oder den Link in der Bio anklicken 💕 #happylou 📸: @senfgelber
Now, she defines herself through her authenticity. She still talks about a healthy lifestyle and sports but self-love and sustainability are additional topics that she is now even more focused on.
How do pivots affect follower engagement?
Star influencers like Stefanie Giesinger do not seem to attract fewer brand partnerships since starting their second channels.
Thanks to her name recognition as a model before even becoming influential on Instagram, a decline is unlikely for Stephanie.
It might be that the trend of imperfection will be more difficult for macro- and micro-influencers without losing reach and brands’ interest in them. These influencers often became influential due to their flawless content in the first place.
Louisa’s follower changes, on the other hand, have been quite erratic the last few month. It is likely that users who were mainly interested in her motivational fitness postings unfollowed her after her change of direction.
On the other hand, she probably attracts other users now with different topics. But that shift might take time and effort. Even though her audience is changing, she still manages to achieve excellent audience quality.
Marketing is an ever-shifting field and so is influencer marketing.
How will brands, marketers, and more importantly, followers, react to a shift towards more explicit authenticity on Instagram? For brands and marketers, this can create a feeling of insecurity, and reminds them of the risk of working with partners whose personalities and lifestyles are completely intertwined with their brand.
But this is why brands and marketers work with influencers in the first place.
This authenticity actually supports the main aspect influencer marketing is all about: Honest opinions of influencers that followers trust. Followers of influencers unveiling both great content and imperfection just might be the most valuable audience. Their following proves their trust in the influencers who also have their #badhairdontcare days, as well.