Today’s consumers don’t always trust this kind of traditional advertising, finding it overly ‘salesy’ and inauthentic. In recent years, there has been a large uptake in brands opting for influencer-generated content. That is, any content – be it images or videos – which an influencer creates in a collaboration with a brand to promote a particular product, company or service.
This can largely be attributed to the fact that brands are increasingly pleased with the content being produced – in part due to the authenticity of the posts – but also the quality. As smartphone manufacturers continue to upgrade their cameras’ tech specs, the threshold for achieving studio-quality shots is being lowered. Sometimes the creators themselves are professional photographers or videographers, with quality equipment and the skills needed to produce fantastic content, making the need for brands to pour lots of money into polished advertising campaigns almost redundant.
That is not to say that the barrier of entry for content creators to engage in paid-for collaborations is simultaneously being lowered. Instead, it has actually worked to encourage brands to scrutinise the profiles they are presented with, seek out creativity and authenticity and, in line with consumer demand, push for this to a greater extent in place of generic content.
Authentic and transparent content
The fact of the matter is consumers respond and react differently to what they perceive as being authentic and transparent content from like-minded individuals that they can relate to and it is this that underpins the disproportionate level of success enjoyed by influencer content. The role of relatability and, subsequently, attainability in advertising when looking to improve marketing goals cannot be overlooked. This is evidenced by the fact that general campaigns have been shown time and time again to fall short when compared to influencer-generated content. According to a report by Altimeter, 57% of marketers said influencer content outperformed the brand’s own content.
Unlike the traditional advertising templates, influencer collaborations are based on the fact that brands can work with influencers whose interests, values, and audiences align with their own. As such, many brands have decided to collaborate with a few influencers here and there to test the waters. Others are making the decision to work with them on a longer-term basis, with the same influencer sharing numerous posts for the company and even being taken on as a brand ambassador, resulting in vast amounts of invaluable influencer-generated content being developed.
As well as images, video is also becoming a rich source of content for brands as, generally, video generates more engagement, thus driving higher a volume of sales and, in recent months, we have been receiving more requests of this nature from brands. The reason for this is simple: video allows for the curation of more creative content, taken in natural environments, with organic product placement. Things like Instagram stories also tend not to be as edited and filtered as regular posts making them feel more authentic and accessible. This is especially true for showcasing services rather than tangible products.
Adding a content usage rights clause
But given the value of influencer-generated content, what becomes of it after a campaign is over? While some remain on the profile of the collaborating influencer, others may choose to remove it after the period of contractual obligation ends. We are finding that brands are becoming increasingly keen to include a content usage rights clause in their collaboration contracts before the start of the campaign. This will allow them to freely reuse the content created by an influencer campaign, adding shopping links to the posts for redistribution or simply sharing them on their website, via their own social channels, or as an advert.
With usage rights fast becoming a crucial element of collaboration contracts when in the process of negotiating or purchasing rights to content, brands should be sure to be transparent in outlining where the content can be used by them and how long for, as this will avoid any potential repercussions further down the line.
What’s more, Instagram’s official rollout of its Branded Content tool serves as clear acknowledgement that influencer-generated content is being used more and more by marketers. The feature, available to all creator and business accounts, consists of a tag that allows creators to disclose when a post is the result of a partnership and insights to help businesses access its performance insights. It also allows brands to boost posts by influencers, promoting them as they would with any other ad, expanding the opportunities for reach and engagement where before those posts would only reach the followers of said influencers.
It also further demonstrates the need to bring increased transparency and consistency to the influencer marketing space. After all, people tend not to mind seeing adverts, providing they are relevant and are clearly marked as such.
As demand for traditional advertising subsides, brands need to move with consumer demand. The trust that influencers can bring to a brand collaboration is evergreen and therefore repurposing content that has already been found to drive results not only makes their lives easier, it also helps reduce advertising costs.