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How Creators Can Maintain Authenticity in Sponsored Content

Being a content creator can seem like it’s all about turning your passion into lucrative opportunities. But some creators end up chasing brand deals that don’t reflect their interests or values – even if it means faking it. Guess what? Fans can smell the fake from a mile away, which can impact their trust in you. That’s where authenticity in influencer marketing is key.

So, if you’re in it for the long run, let’s talk realness. Forget about it “fake it ’til you make it.” This guide is your playbook to keep it 100% you, no matter what offers come your way. Let’s dive in and uncover ways to stay grounded and true to yourself in every post.

Why Is Authenticity in Influencer Marketing Important?

In a world where flexing and faking feel commonplace, you may wonder why authenticity is important for you as a content creator. While social media has given rise to sell-out culture in some ways, it’s also made us more attuned to what is and what isn’t authentic. We are more aware and more skeptical about social media than ever, even though we spend hours a day on our favorite platforms!

Maintaining authenticity isn’t always easy in front of a camera, or when writing for thousands of followers. That’s why keeping your uniqueness will garner more respect from your audience. The people who follow you now were drawn to you for a reason, and when you commit to staying true to who you are, it establishes trust within your audience and makes you more likable.

People want to engage with and buy from those they know and trust, which means staying authentic will lead to more engagement and hopefully, more sales and brand opportunities, in the long run. When you bring results for brands just by being who you are, you’ll be able to achieve longevity in the content creation business through authentic influencer marketing.

8 Ways Creators Maintain Authenticity in Influencer Marketing

Now that you fully understand why authentic influencer marketing is important for you as a content creator, you need to know how to achieve and maintain it in a competitive, social media-driven world.

Here are eight ways that you can continue to stay true to yourself and your values when creating sponsored content:

1. Be Selective

As an influencer, it’s vital that you are (and remain) selective with your brand partnerships, even after you have amassed a large following. When brands approach you, make sure that you take the time to evaluate whether their products and brand messaging are in alignment with your personal values. If you’ve spoken passionately about sustainable clothing before, it wouldn’t be a good look to promote a brand that is notoriously not earth-conscious. Your followers will know when you don’t believe in the product you’re promoting, and most likely, it won’t lead to strong results on the brand side, either. 

2. Infuse Your Story

You are more than the products you promote. You have a unique story to tell, one that can help you create and sustain a lasting bond with your followers. With that said, consider infusing that story into your sponsored posts as a way to maintain your authenticity in marketing. 

For example, if you are promoting a skincare item and have a personal story about what it’s like to lose confidence when battling breakouts, make sure you keep that story front and center. This is relatable content because others have struggled with this same challenge, and that connection is powerful. Having an authentic story to tell is also what can give you leverage with brands, because they’re looking for those connections to real people too.

3. Build Connections Before Promotion

Before you market anything to your audience, make sure they know that you care about them. Ask them about the content and products they want to see in your posts or videos. Tie it back to your interests and focus. For instance, if you cover home DIY projects, ask them about their experiences with projects similar to what you are working on.

Respond to people when they leave comments on your content. Make it a point to answer their pressing questions or address issues. When you are responsive to your audience in these ways, it’s much more likely that they will return the favor. 

4. Be Consistent In Behavior and Messaging

Your audience can tell when something isn’t “on-brand” for you. If your following has been loyal to you from day one, you need to be the same for them. If you start behaving in a manner that is radically different or pushing messaging that is counter to their values, you’ll want to explain why. And even then, you risk losing the interest and trust of your OG fans – although, you may attract new ones too! 

5. Avoid Overpromotion or Spamming

If brand-sponsored and promotional posts are all you share, you’ll put yourself on the fast track to losing your authenticity. Your audience comes to your channel or page to connect with you as a person and other like-minded individuals who follow you. 

Don’t turn them away by turning yourself into a marketing robot. Especially once you’re regularly partnering with brands, don’t forget to mix it up with valuable content that is 100% unsponsored. You don’t want followers to realize you only put out content when there’s a brand backing you. 

And, when you are promoting a brand, try to integrate mentions in an organic (and compliant) way that flows naturally into the content you would’ve put out anyway. Sometimes brands will require a dedicated post or restrict other brand mentions, but they’re still working with you for a reason. If you aren’t prioritizing your value first, your audience won’t tune in to hear about a brand’s value.

6. Always Tell the Truth, and Be Transparent

If you don’t like a product, tell your audience the truth about it. If you once promoted a product that you no longer use, make sure to tell your followers. Everyone will ultimately make their own decisions about the products they buy and use, of course, but your followers will still appreciate the effort you make to be transparent with them. 

If you do make a mistake or mess up at some point along the journey, it’s important for you to be real with your audience about that as well. Apologizing and trying to make things right goes a long way, so make sure that you are consistently owning up to your mistakes, especially if your audience calls you out on them. 

7. Set Expectations With Your Audience

As creators navigate the waters of monetizing content, especially during the holiday season when sponsored opportunities are abundant, maintaining authenticity can seem like a tightrope walk. One effective approach is to be transparent with your audience about the uptick in sponsored content. During a recent roundtable, MagicLinks Creator Ashley Lopez shared that she gives her audience a heads up about the uptick of sponsored content and reminds them that creating content is her job. However, she also increases the amount of organic content she produces, so her feed is more than a block of ads.  

By giving your followers a heads-up, you’re not just preserving the trust and rapport you’ve built, but you’re also setting an expectation. This approach humanizes your sponsored posts, making them a transparent part of your brand story rather than an intrusive ad. Honesty resonates with audiences and helps sustain the creator-follower relationship even when sponsored content becomes more frequent.

8. Showcase Your Passion in Other Ways

Sponsored content delivers paychecks, but it doesn’t have to be the end-all, be-all of your social media presence. If you have a passion for something, it’s wonderful for you to partner with brands that hold the same values in order to bring amazing products to a wider audience, but don’t forget that you can show your passion in plenty of other non-sponsored ways. 

If you’re a fitness influencer, for instance, consider showing your followers how you have fun in the gym or relax on your rest days. Maybe think about taking them with you to a summer camp as you talk to kids about the importance of healthy eating and exercise. Ensure your audience sees how you live out your values in real life, not just through the products you promote.

The Push for #Deinfluencing on Social Media

Sometimes scrolling social media can feel monotonous; many influencers all seem to be promoting the same big brand names. Many Gen Z individuals reject the ideas of mass consumerism and of constantly buying products that they don’t need or use, or that don’t make efforts towards improving sustainability or fair labor practices. 

In response, many content creators have tried to steer the industry away from those mass-marketed products by recommending other brands that are more aligned with their personal values. It is a push that is forming the basis of a social media movement called #deinfluencing. Instead of telling audiences why they should buy a product or service, deinfluencing is when creators encourage their followers to consider not buying something. While this content can sometimes feel overly negative, deinfluencing is the manifestation of how we interact with brands. Just as we all have products and brands that we love and support, we also have products and brands that we don’t feel strongly about or don’t serve a purpose. 

Authentic Content Creation Is the Way Forward

Influencer culture is no longer just about making money selling products for brands. Instead, it’s all about maintaining social media authenticity and making real connections with your community. 

It’s important for influencers on every platform to remember that people will buy from those they come to know and trust. So when you take the time to build a solid foundation with your audience, you’ll be able to have — and maintain — a genuine influence simply because they know that, whatever product you’re promoting, you always have their best interests at heart. Continue to deliver value by showing your audience that they’re more than dollar signs to you. 

Apply to join the MagicLinks Creator network, where your content can shine even brighter and your brand collaborations reach new heights. 

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