Audience Engagement Platforms
2 mins read

Social media influencers come under fire amidst widespread distrust 

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New research from Emplifi, the customer (CX) experience platform, reveals widespread UK consumer distrust in mega influencers, amid record-high inflation and the UK government’s clampdown on undeclared advertisements. 

The survey – commissioned by Emplifi and conducted by Google Surveys in April 2022 with 2,500 UK consumers – found that 41% of UK consumers ‘never’ trust the products and services being promoted to them by social media influencers, particularly so-called ‘mega influencers’ with over one million followers.

It comes at a time when influencer marketing budgets represent the largest proportion of overall marketing spend for many brands, although the widening gap between prosperous influencers and cash-strapped consumers is now being felt with UK inflation at a 40-year high. This is perhaps why only 7% of UK consumers place the most value on influencers with an inspirational lifestyle.

Accompanying the news, Emplifi CMO, Zarnaz Arlia says, “While influencer marketing should remain a priority for marketing budgets in 2022, what needs to change is how brands select the right influencer with whom to partner. Brands whose influencer messaging is centered on authenticity will provide more relatable experiences that better connect with consumers.”

In today’s climate, brands should invest time in identifying influencers that align best with their core values. This will ultimately remove short-term risk from marketing campaigns, ensuring they do not feel contrived and inauthentic, while building long-lasting brand loyalty.

Zarnaz Arlia, CMO, Emplifi

It comes at a time when social media influencers are increasingly coming under fire for causing unnecessary social anxiety and depression. In a recent study of social media influencers by three university professors (Samira Farivar, Carleton University; Fang Wang, Wilfrid Laurier University; and Ofir Turel, University of Melbourne), they concluded that “more research on the dark side of social media influencers is needed and we call for future research to focus on additional negative consequences such as followers’ anxiety, depression and the impact of following influencers on followers’ well-being.”

We argue that social media users who are attracted to influencers can become easily attached and engage excessively…social media influencers should be aware of followers’ problematic engagement. Although it may be in contrast with their goal of increasing follower engagement, they can focus on creating a healthy relationship with their followers.

Samira Farivar, Carleton University; Fang Wang, Wilfrid Laurier University; and Ofir Turel, University of Melbourne

Social media influencers are also being investigated by authorities, with the UK watchdog, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), telling MPs earlier this year that it needs stronger tools to find influencers that fail to declare when a post has been sponsored.

For publishers with a high percentage of influencer content, the implications are clear. Tread carefully.