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GUEST COLUMN How to build a healthy relationship with influencers

Alex Payne, Sky Sports host and co-founder of Room Unlocked

Data reveals Gen Z is the most susceptible to online endorsements, taking an active role in developing their identities and appearance based on celebrities. Alex Payne, Sky Sports host and co-founder of Room Unlocked, provides tips for responsibly engaging with influencer-endorsed products

When influencer culture first emerged, content creators were confined to their own industry, primarily associated with fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries. Today, the influencer economy has witnessed seismic growth with influencers starting to leverage their online presence to expand their careers into other fields – becoming writers of best-selling books, launching sell-out products and taking over the sports space.  

For this reason, influencers have had their fair share of criticism, particularly around the inauthenticity of endorsements. Consumers have become sceptical when it comes to purchasing products on promoted social media and for this reason, Room Unlocked – a value exchange platform overhauling influencer marketing for the world’s biggest brands – reveals how to avoid falling into the latest influencer endorsement trap.

Don’t lose sight of the products you use

It is important to not lose sight of what you would usually purchase. Do some research on the products being endorsed. Then ask yourself these three simple questions; Why the product makes sense for you as an individual? What problem you can solve with it? Is it actually worth the money?

Search for more authentic brand ambassadors 

Now the social media market is populated with smaller influencers who have more curated feeds and focus on a specific niche. We are not saying to unfollow your favourite celebrities or macro-influencers, but keep in mind the possibility that they might be pocketing from mentioning a product on their social media and wouldn’t use it themselves. So, make sure you are also following people who are promoting products that align with similar values and beliefs as your own.

Disassociate the product from the celebrity

Subconsciously people believe that purchasing a product that’s promoted by a celebrity they admire, will allow them to emulate the celebrity’s desired traits or attract similar people into their lives. In fact, a study found that consumers (ages 18-24) are more susceptible to celebrity brand endorsements than other age groups, because they take on a more active role in developing their identities and appearance based on celebrities. Remind yourself these celebrities have a whole other wealth of resources at the tip of their fingers, and the product their promoting is probably not the only thing they use to achieve their ‘perfect’ skin, body hair, etc.

At Room Unlocked, we have long promoted the benefits of brands working with genuine fans of their brand.  The move from commercial transactions, where brands buy influencers and influencers sell themselves, to genuine connections built on brand love is gathering pace and with obvious benefits – less time required, no money involved, greater volumes of content with higher levels of engagement.

The era of brands just placing ads through influencers is over.  Instead, they now recognise the need to create fans and build longer-term relationships. And when brands reciprocate the love of their fans, they get more back than they ever receive by simply paying someone.

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