The disease that marketers are trying to cure is the collapse in consumer trust. Trust is the bedrock of consumer relationships with brands. Yet, only 54% of American consumers say they trust businesses in general, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. Trust in the media is in open freefall. As for trust in ads, just 38 percent of consumers (surveyed across eight countries, including the U.S.), say they trust advertising to get information about brands and services, according to Kantar’s most recent Trust Score study. And trust in government? Don’t ask.
As this crisis in consumer confidence unfolded, marketers rightfully sought greater authenticity in their content and communications. They understandably strove to build meaningful relationships with consumers by building on the perceived trust between consumers and the celebrities, YouTube stars and influencers that they follow on social media.
Unfortunately, what we call “influencer marketing”—an industry that grew to nearly $10 billion in 2020, according to Influencer Marketing Hub (and could grow to almost $14 billion this year)—doesn’t actually build trust, because influencers command attention, not intention. Despite being famous, influencers generate extremely low engagement. In fact, on Instagram, the larger a user’s follower-count, the lower their engagement rate, according to analytics firm InfluencerDB.
At People First Marketing, where part of our marketing practice is focused on…