Part I: Find Your “Brand-ness” and Stay Authentic

It’s not always easy for an influencer, or for anyone who has a job promoting a product, to appear genuine. Today we’ll talk about how to remain authentic even when you engage in posting sponsored content regularly.

Modern-day consumers are savvy enough to know what influencer marketing is. If they see you as a paid actor, the endorsement simply won’t be effective, which can ultimately hurt your image. To avoid this, influencers must act human and humanize brands they work with, placing greater effort in maintaining authenticity on social media.

In this article we will go through all the critical aspects of creating authentic and engaging social media presence. In this part of the series, we will explore what we call “Brand-ness” and how you can use it for your benefit. You can read the second part right here.

Be Aware of Your “Brand-ness”

What is “brand-ness”? – The connection spark between the influencer and the brand which makes a sponsorship ad appear seemingly natural, creative and authentic.

Influencer need to connect to their inner “brand-ness”, to create a voice that aligns with the brand’s character and DNA. Basically, this means understanding the difference in tone between promoting a craft beer brewery and a financial firm. You have to adjust your behavior to the product you’re promoting, and pick brands that fit your usual behavior.

Fashion , lifestyle and beauty blogger Chriselle Lim took a beating for plugging Volvo. An influencer from a fitting niche would have probably been successful with the same post.

But developing your brand-ness means more than just understanding the brand image. It’s about identifying a connection between the brands “values” and your personality, and then finding the most creative ways to expose this connection in your videos or posts.

It’s important because both the influencer and the brand don’t want to appear fake or opportunistic. You want to speak about products from a place of genuine and natural consumer.

Manage expectations with your audience.

Your follower audience have a basic expectation for what sort of brands fit what content. A brand that goes out of these expectation may appear as taking itself too seriously or as “trying to be cool”. This is not always the case, but it is the rule of thumb.

It’s embarrassing to see companies attempt to cater to younger generations by appropriating (and misusing) memes from two years ago. It only shows the huge gap between the image the brand tries to convey and the actual brand. Just as it would be kind of boring to watch a video game review without any kind of humor or banter.

Show respect for the brand and for your role as an influencer. Never tag other brands when doing a sponsored post . This is not a good way to look for work and you will likely only show that you cannot be trusted.

Subvert your Brand-ness with Humor

You need to remember that brands are not human. Even if a brand is extraordinarily authentic it is still just a corporation. It’s looking to promote products in order to make profits, and no single individual is above that goal. One of the most effective things you can do working with a brand is to humorously “acknowledge” this fact.  

Remember that you need to be entertaining. Exploit the absurdity of a corporation trying to pass as genuine and human when everyone knows how far this is from the truth by definition. As an influencer, you can create a personal connection between your audience and brand by dialing the seriousness back sometimes. (As long as the character of the brand allows it, of course.)

Many brands are looking to disengage from corporate barriers in their attitude towards social media and influencers in particular. In some cases this has tremendous impact on brand awareness. Meme and humor accounts are some of the most popular on social media – use this to draw more people to your brand.

Wendy’s & Using Humor

One example of effectively using brand humor is Wendy’s. It managed to transform its image from a just another fast food chain to much more personal and human. 

wendys meme tweet

Wendy’s tend to post sassy jokes and to playfully attack their competitors with humor. They also usually manage to use memes correctly, and are almost known for it by now. Their posts are popular all over the web, but one viral instance is of them responding to an unruly customer in early 2017.

wendys twitter thread
This exchange has reportedly prompted Thuggy-D to delete his Twitter account. 

After this post went viral, there was an immediate, massive spike in Wendy’s engagement, before returning to status quo:

wendys engagement
Any claims of Wendy’s “showing vulnerability” or otherwise asking for trouble are overshadowed by the effectiveness of the tactic.

Another brand that doesn’t shy away from making snarky jokes on social media is Netflix, which consistently ranks as most likable among young audiences. They have a distinct brand voice that fits with the main audience they serve and the content they create. A lot of their appeal for millennial audiences is their less-than-serious tone.

Utilizing these form of tactics can keep engagement and brand awareness on the rise. Remember that not all brands can or should be subverted with humor! The trick is to get a feel of the brands and marketers you work with, manage expectations, and see how you can benefit their campaign. Humor has the power to transform a brand’s image and is one of the most valuable assets you can offer.

Tell a Story

One critical assumption within the influencer community is that brand sponsorships have a negative impact on their authenticity as creators. This leads to the question:  How can you even create a truly authentic post if you’re actually just trying to sell a product?

The answer is yes – if you use storytelling. As an influencer, your personal take on things and experience is what distinguishes you from yet another pop-up ad. Your readers and viewers want to know your unique way of seeing things. This is true even when it comes to the products that you promote. Remember that they are there for you, not for the brands you work with.

You should think of product testimonials as stories. Your story needs to be detailed and with a personal spin. If you are promoting a hotel, show your fans how your vacation went, not just a description of your accommodation. Don’t forget the background characters. Tell the people the story behind the brand you’re promoting or about the person behind the project you’re talking about. Not only this is a great way to connect to your followers, it is a highly effective promotion method.

storytelling marketing infographic
Source at AdWeek

Make sure to engage back with your audience to learn what exactly they like more or less in your content. You should always improve your video posts to tell a better story more fitting to your existing and potential audiences.

Numbers Matter but Cheating Hurts

Be authentic when it comes to validating your follower base.  The industry rules are clear- never ever pay for followers, buy comments, or any other form of non-organic traffic.

We wrote a guide on how you can audit your own account by yourself, using tools that are openly available for free.

You can read it right here!

Bio: You can read more guides and insights on Influencer Marketing right here on the Shoperr Blog. We feature articles written for both influencers and brands with extensive coverage of the industry as a whole.