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Influencer marketing is everywhere. If you’ve been following influencer marketing since its inception about 15 years ago (yes, before Instagram even existed), which started with paid blog posts and sponsored tweets, one word is at the center of industry: authenticity.
The success of an influencer marketing campaign depends on the authenticity of the creative, its relationship to the sponsored brand, and the message delivered. The problem facing influencer marketing today is that influencers are generally not viewed as authentic or genuine. A recent international study shows that only 4% of people believe what influencers say is true, and the rate of successful “influence” has also dropped. In fact, the influencer market has become so saturated and criticized for essentially selling products to make a quick buck, that a new term has recently been coined – real influencers.
“Genuinfluencers”, a term created by combining the words “genuine” and “influencers”, is intended to distinguish generic (and presumably untrustworthy) “influencers” from seriously genuine ones. According to a source, the term describes “social media stars who use their platforms beyond product placement.” Whatever name we give it – influencer marketing or now influencer marketing – ultimately it is a form of marketing, the end goal of which is always to sell a product or service to consumers.
The problem is that the whole process is commercially driven and therefore will never really feel “authentic”. As long as the process begins and ends with a desire to sell something, influencers will continue to struggle to establish trust with their audience.
If you really want to create authentic content, follow these steps.
1. Remove money from the equation.
If your sole purpose of being on social media is to make money, the public will see through any message you send. To be truly authentic, you must first develop your presence on social networks without focusing at all on monetization. Moreover, money is a means to an end – it is not an end in itself. Money is a resource whose value and benefits arise from its application.
Related: Influencer Marketing 101: A Blueprint for Running a Successful Campaign
2. Start with your goal.
Social media is best viewed as a platform for distributing thoughts, ideas, and messages. It’s a way to instantly connect with other people around the world through technology that easily fits in the palm of your hand. So, before using social media, you must first know why you are using social media – what thoughts, ideas and messages are you trying to convey? The most authentic, unique and valuable thing you can share with your audience is you and your life purpose. Instead of answering the question of why you are on social media, start by answering the question of why you are – what is your purpose in life?
3. Use your life experience.
There is nothing more authentic than your story. Once you understand your life purpose, you can see how it has unfolded throughout your life and begin to establish creative life “themes” (i.e. ideas and topics recurring). Because you have constantly experimented with these themes, you are a natural authority on these topics with a unique and valuable perspective to offer. Within each theme, you can then establish your “truths” in each topic. These truths will become the basis of your authentic message.
Related: What Marketers Need to Know About Influencer Marketing in 2021
4. Understand your personal expressions.
We often forget the distinction between content creation and creative expression. Content creation is the process of creating images and photos for the purpose of posting them on social media. Creative expression is how you communicate your original ideas of value, including who you are. If you are an artist, you can express truths through painting, sculpture, music, writing, dance, drama, photography, video, or any other form of artistic expression. If you are an entrepreneur, your life truths are embodied in the businesses and brands you build. In addition to what you do professionally and artistically, you also express the truths of your life through the way you live your life and your life priorities. Some examples of life priorities and activities include fitness, beauty, fashion, cooking, interior design, organization, essentialism or minimalism, gardening, and parenting. All of this is an expression of who you are.
5. Turn your creative expression into content.
Content creation is about capturing moments of creative expression in the form of images and video. Generally, the form of content you produce will depend on the digital platforms you decide to use. For example, if you use Instagram, you will create photos and videos and add relevant copy or caption. The copy that accompanies your photo or video is where you will usually explain the specific truth. The goal is to create content that captures your creative expression of a particular truth within a particular theme. By starting with your goal and capturing yourself speaking personal truths, the end result is guaranteed to be authentic.
6. Trust the process.
Your goal in creating content should be to fulfill your life purpose by distributing your truths to the widest possible audience. That’s what social media is: a platform for spreading your message. If you communicate your message effectively, those who receive it and need it will listen and follow you. Over time, you will build an audience that is genuinely interested in what you have to say and stand up for. It’s an audience that will be engaged in the conversation, and it’s the audience that will most likely buy whatever you ultimately have to sell when it comes to turning your message and purpose into commercial form. It’s a funny thing about money: when you shift your focus away from it as a goal and instead focus on conveying your true, authentic worth, you actually find yourself able to earn the as much money as possible. Authenticity is key, but it cannot be fabricated. It just has to be revealed.
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