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Trust is crucial when using social media influencers, but advertisers continue to be tripped up by influencers’ previous activity and now face new challenges with the rise of computer-generated influencers .
In the latest example of a lack of due diligence, the Australian government was pulled up on its spending of A$600,000 on social media stars as part of #girlsmakeyourmove, a Health Department campaign to encourage young women to stay active.
It was revealed that some Instagram influencers, who were being paid up to A$3,000 per post, had previous associations with alcohol companies and extreme dieting products. It was also recently reported that the Australian Defence Force had paid two gaming influencers to make YouTube videos promoting air force recruitment but had removed these after their derogatory comments about women and rape came to light.
“The government has recently reviewed the use of social media influencers and determined that they will not be used in future campaigns,” David Coleman, Assistant Minister for Finance, said in a statement, reported by Ad News.
While the government may have had its fingers burned, influencer advocates such as The Remarkable’s Natalie Giddings argue that “influencers are seasoned communicators who have naturally built up trust, authority and influence among their engaged audience, over time”.
On YouTube, for example, Australians spend between six and 15 minutes per episode with their favourite influencer, three times per week as if tuning in to their favourite TV show, she wrote in a Mumbrella article. “Forget content is king. It’s real people that is the key,” she said.
But new developments in this space suggest that may be changing, as a wave of robotic and computer-generated influencers gain acceptance. LA-based Miquela Sousa is one such and she has even appeared in real-life situations, with local fashion influencer Margaret Zhang, for example.
The fact that Miquela has fronted a couple of fashion campaigns also raises questions about whether the robotic personality is being paid and if she is but is not disclosing the fact then who would be liable – the creator or the brand?.
That may be academic according to Giddings, who doesn’t believe CGI influencers will have much impact.
“Trust is the key capital at stake,” she told Marie Claire magazine. “Will a customer believe the product claims of a skincare product from a make-believe person? I doubt it.”