“Influencers” can damage brand image

Wednesday April 24 2019

Aggie Patricia Turwomwe

Aggie Patricia Turwomwe 

By Aggie Patricia Turwomwe

Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing “professions” in Kampala. These influencers arrive with the certainty of a modern-day Moses proclaiming they can fix marketing problems. They have amazing presentations that can easily blow one’s mind away. However there are questions to be asked about them.

The current state of these influencers is bedevilled by integrity and transparency issues because they sell their services on the basis of how many people follow them online. This way, they easily rip companies off of ridiculous amounts of money. Their job? They say pretty much anything about anything. While there is a significant chance that your brand’s audience might continue to follow them, they won’t necessarily believe what they say. This kind of activity in this digital age is called fraud.

Now, we understand why brands sleep with them; these influencers have hundreds and thousands of Instagram followers and this can be enticing for desperate companies that want a piece of that pie in order to engage some of that following. But this partnership needs to be well thought out in order to get the company results.

We must remember that there is the problem of fake followers. Consumers today are sophisticated and care about authenticity. This is why this should also be a primary concern of yours. Whether your brand target is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any one of the many platforms susceptible to influence, there are always going to be questions about fake vs. genuine followers. If an influencer buys fake followers and then wants to be paid for their ghost followers in Pakistan that won’t help grow a Ugandan product, then you are pouring your money down a drain. If your influencer is found to have many fake followers and their numbers drop by the thousands during a clean-up, you will regret the day you got them on board. The backlash from your audiences will be terrible.

Influencer marketing suffers not just from the problems of fake followers and visibility but from a lack of credibility. Because someone is being paid to associate with a brand or product, this affects their authenticity. Do they really care about this product? Or are they just doing it for the money?

In time, if this influencer doesn’t represent your brand values, they will erode consumer trust and love for your brand once they get in bed with the competitor for the same transaction, or post about things that do not align well with your brand purpose.


How to go about getting the right influencer

If one therefore wants to pick on the right messenger to bring messages to their target audience these are some of the things they can do in order to get the right influencer.

  • Find people that represent your brand’s values and use desired communication channels with real followers in the country, guided by Artificial Intelligence reports from Stat Counter, IPSOS or UCC.
  • Get them to easily engage with your business’s audience by creating your own content for them to post. This way, you can ensure proper and well written messages will go out because you will make it genuine enough to believe. (You can build long-term campaigns to support your brand, which will encourage engagement and build brand love).
  • Make sure their allegiance is with your brand – seal this in a contract to avoid a tricky situation a week later.
  • If you get this far, they should have enough influence to make your audience click on that link or swipe up. You can assess the impact using click-through rates (CTR).

At the end of the day, you want your audiences to stick with you the whole time. You therefore need to gain their trust. So always remember, trust isn’t influence!