Instagram; a social network where the sole purpose is to show people images they love, help them get closer to the people they love, and give everyday pets celebrity status – what’s not to love!
But, when 24-year-old fashion blogger Scarlett Dixon, aka Scarlett London, posted a photo last month of her perfect morning, things all got a bit dark and nasty.
Picture a girl sat in her pyjamas on a beautiful bed with a plate of pancakes and strawberries surrounded by helium heart shaped balloons and a big mug of tea. The problem? The mug was empty, the pancakes were tortilla wraps… and the whole thing was sponsored by a brand. With the Listerine mouth wash bottle pictured on her bedside table, the horrible comments instantly started circulating. Insults tossed around included #Fakelife, Bunny Boiler and even serial killer. Scarlett’s justification of the post described her feed as ‘not a place for reality’ and she admitted to it being ‘staged’.
Although the brand hasn’t had any public backlash from the post, the incident is being seen by many as a big red flag for working with bloggers and influencers. Influencers are called just that for a reason, they are highly influential. Products endorsed by certain names and people can see huge sales spikes, with certain influencers, such as Deliciously Ella, making a big name for themselves outside of the Instagram world.
So, how can the PR industry avoid situations like this when working with bloggers and influencers? Research is key. Before selecting an influencer, you need to understand their passions, style of content and previous brand work. The litmus test for us is always if they would genuinely embrace the brand into their lifestyle.
Briefing is also important to move the relationship beyond ‘badging’. Influencers should understand the brand ethos and objective of the activity; not just to create relevant content but also to give them the opportunity to engage in conversation with their followers once the initial trigger content has been shared.
Finally, gaining content sign off is always a good idea. Be sure that it’s in keeping with your brand messaging, and that it’s exactly what you’re looking for. Although the post will also have to follow their own guidelines and style, this is your chance to flag anything you’d like changing or aren’t 100% happy with.
Working with influencers can come with its challenges, and whilst Instagram requires users to use #ad on a paid for post, negative opinions and feedback are always a possibility. However, by following these rules you can ensure that influencer engagement is a powerful tool to deliver engagement and ultimately sales for your brand.