Have we lost our trust in online influencers?

2019-06-20

…Over a third of communications professionals say they have lost trust in online influencers…
Sample: c400 UK-based Senior Communications Professionals, June 2019

The Pulse Business’ PR & Communications Pulse suggests that while nearly one in two communications professionals trust online influencers over a a third say they have lost their trust in this community.

What is driving this trend is complex. One Senior Director noted,“One might ask if trust in on-line influencers ever existed. Running a PR company deluged with requests and demands for freebies offering 'a good write-up' in return, their credibility was zero. Political influencers inhabit a different sphere and, like all media, should be read and understood circumspectly.”

A Co-Founder of a fast-growing Virtual PR Agency said, “As I'm in the industry and know that 'influencers' always get paid in money or in kind, I wouldn't trust that all of them genuinely rate or believe in anything they promote or endorse. There are of course exceptions - but how do we as consumers know which is which?”

But trust in this community has not disappeared altogether. As a Senior EMEA Managing Director observed, “For the vast majority of brands - especially B2B - influencers are proving a valuable and impactful channel. We have also seen the use of influencers for specific creative campaigns work really well for consumer brands. The danger exists when you invest in a 'super influencer' and the results don't materialise. That's not necessarily the fault of the influencer but many factors from poor creative, poor amplification, or simply that the tactic and approach was not right.”

Some respondents were more inclined to take a balanced view with one commenting, “I think there has definitely been trust erosion with a certain type of online influencer, with brands and consumers becoming more sceptical of people who seem to be famous for being famous. But influential people still carry a lot of weight through online communications and can change public opinion through a few well placed posts.”

The last word sits with the CEO of a medium-sized PR & Comms Agency who offered, “Overall I do think we have lost trust in influencers. But there's no getting away from that influencers are an incredibly powerful channels that PR and Ad agencies should be looking at, often over and above traditional earned media.”

 

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