Platforms Can Police Brand Safety, But That Won’t Always Protect Influencer Marketers
For years, platforms including Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for not doing enough to ensure brand safety. Now, they’re finally listening. Just last month, Twitter kicked off a pre-audit process with the Media Rating Council to ensure its compliance with the MRC’s brand safety standards, such as safe ad placement. Facebook, meanwhile, is already in the midst of its MRC audit, and TikTok is ahead of the pack, earning TAG Brand Safety Accreditation around the world.
While opening the ecosystems up for inspection is a move towards more accountability, there’s a caveat: ensuring brand safety shouldn’t be a burden that falls only on the shoulders of platforms. More often than not, when brand safety comes into question in influencer marketing, it’s not the platform that’s to blame, but rather the quality of the pairing between creator and brand.
With Great Reach Comes Great Responsibility
Consider Pepsi’s disastrous mismatch with Kendall Jenner. Back in 2017, PepsiCo’s internal creative studio developed an ad depicting her handing a police officer a Pepsi can to break up a protest, trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement and inciting outrage. Though ignorance is mostly to blame, Pepsi also made a fairly common mistake when it comes to influencer marketing: going after the biggest—rather than the best fit—influencer.
Today, true influencer marketing experts know it’s essential to conduct thorough research to find a well-matched influencer instead of always opting for a recognizable face, using resources like AI-powered analysis of past content performance, and tapping into an existing network of creator relationships to find the right fit. Imagine if the influencer Pepsi chose wasn’t a reality TV star, but an activist who championed Pepsi’s originally intended message of unity. And imagine if that activist helped shape the content of the ad. You’re likely envisioning a commercial that’s more diverse, thoughtful and powerful.
The Price of Ego Is Too Steep
As influencer marketing grows and matures, many brands still fail to appreciate that effective influencer marketing requires more than chasing down creators with the biggest followings. That’s why even when brands are capable of handling influencer marketing internally, it doesn’t always mean they should. Flops like the Pepsi ad may not happen every day. But an influencer committing a faux pas, such as copying text into a post caption without reading it? That happens often, and points to a lack of care and authenticity in the partnership.
Working with a partner that leverages a combination of AI technology and influencer relationships to pinpoint creators that share a brand’s values—and whose content can authentically resonate with the intended audience—makes companies much less vulnerable to misrepresentation and brand safety mishaps. Influencer marketing is only growing in importance, with spending estimated to exceed $3 billion by 2021. Brands can’t afford to wing it on their own.