Most Irish people don’t trust influencers

More than half of Irish people say they are concerned by a lack of transparency in influencer marketing, according to an ASAI study.

While familiar with the influencer marketing trend, more than half of Irish people don’t appear to trust these so-called influencers and actually find them annoying.

Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from so-called influencers who claim to be trendsetters or have a level of knowledge on a niche or subject matter. These so-called influencers claim to have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of consumers.

“Influencers and brands alike will need to step up and build more authentic campaigns that resonate with the consumer”

A study by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) looking at the influencer industry in Ireland and reveals the impact on consumer behaviour and attitudes. The survey results are based on the views of 1,224 participants across a broad demographic, interviewed online and representative of the adult population.

Nearly three-in-four people (73pc) are familiar with the practice of influencer marketing, with a majority (80pc) believing that when an influencer posts an ad, they are being paid by the brand to post positive content and that any mentions of a brand in a post means it is advertising (75pc).

Influencer content is annoying

The research found that while 76pc have used social media for tips and inspiration, 57pc find too much sponsored content ‘annoying’. Similarly, the majority of Irish adults (59pc) find over edited photos ‘annoying’ as well as influencers who do not seem authentic or misrepresent real life (59pc).

Additional bugbears include content that takes advantage of impressionable audiences (52pc) and repetitive posts (49pc). However, 42pc believe influencers to be more responsible with advertising that they were three years ago.

The research also provides insight into the efficacy of online advertising, with two thirds (66pc) of social media users able to spontaneously recall hashtags or phrases such as #ad, #sponsored or #brandambassador used to identify advertising content.

The ASAI has strict guidelines around how influencer content should be flagged having introduced guidance on the ‘Recognisability of Marketing Communications’ – covering commercial content created on behalf of brands as well as commercial content created by influencers for their own products and services.

“Over the last number of years influencers have cemented their place in the digital advertising space and this is set to increase further this year and beyond,” said ASAI chief executive Orla Twomey.

“However, with power lies great responsibility as consumers are demanding more from the influencers they follow and trust. The report findings prove that if influencer marketing is to sustain and deliver desired return on investment, trust and transparency needs to be established every step of the way, from influencer selection right through to campaign delivery.

“Although there has been vast improvement in recent years, influencers and brands alike will need to step up and build more authentic campaigns that resonate with the consumer as doing so will provide a more meaningful experience for all involved.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 24 February 2021