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How Influencer Authenticity Went Too Far with a Motorcycle Crash

Instagram has had a long track record for only posting the impeccable. It’s used it to curate a portrayal of life at its best. Instagram has recently noticed a different pattern with influencers now posting the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tanya Chen from Buzzfeed news writes the Instagram aesthetic is dying and is leaving users “wanting more meaningful content that can improve their lives in some way.”

This is what Nashville-based blogger Tiffany Mitchell was aiming for when she posted a series of photos on Instagram of her orchestrated photo shoot and her terrifying motorcycle accident that dramatically ensued.

The pictures were stunning, perfectly-curated and professionally taken. While she claims that “[she] hopes whatever happens can add to people’s lives in some way,” many followers were appalled that someone took pictures of her mid-accident and that she posted them.

Oh, and the perfectly centered, front-facing label bottle of Smart Water was, well…strange.  One follower commented with #sponsored, poking fun at the fact that, it looks like sponsored content with the product placed “effortlessly” but intentionally. 

Mitchell, has claimed that she “would never turn a very personal story like this into a brand campaign” and Smart Water has also confirmed that there was no paid partnerships between the two. While she has since archived the post, the topic brings up an important issue in influencer marketing: brand safety. Ultimately, marketers have no control over what influencers choose to post that isn’t paid sponsorships with their brand. The brand gets a bad rep if the influencer they partner with posts something that doesn’t align with their brand values. This is why brand safety is arguably one of the most important metrics in influencer marketing. Brand safety ensures that the influencer has similar type of followers to your brand and that they hold little to no risk to your brand’s reputation and values. 

Creator safety addresses whether or not the creator has or has a likelihood to post questionable/ controversial content whereas audience safety addresses the creator’s audience and whether or not they have or have the likelihood to post questionable/ controversial comments. Instagram has rolled out a feature to mitigate this: a comment warning feature which detects if someone may be posting a comment with red-flag-type language. It asks the follower: are you sure you want to post this? The second feature of the update is the restriction feature, allowing users to review comments from ‘restricted accounts’ (accounts the follower chooses to restrict). If the user chooses to approve comments from the restricted account, it will show up behind a “sensitivity screen,” meaning users will have to tap to see it.

How will influencer marketing agencies work to prevent influencers’ posting questionable content? It ultimately comes from a deep understanding of the influencer’s track record and trust that if they have never posted questionable content, they won’t ever. But ultimately, their personal brand is their personal brand. What happened with Tiffany Mitchell was unfortunate, but was it avoidable? At the end of the day, brands can and likely will pull deals from creators if given reason that would put their brand association with the creator at risk or not in ideal light. So if creators want to keep their deals, they too, should know better.

Luckily, Captiv8 has a deep understanding of brand safety and continues to work with brand-safe influencers. Reach out to find the perfect brand-safe influencer for your campaign.

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