Marketing Report
Ippolita Magrone: How context-aware AI can help influencer marketing platforms build trusting relationships in the age of authenticity

Ippolita Magrone: How context-aware AI can help influencer marketing platforms build trusting relationships in the age of authenticity

In the age of authenticity, consumers seek the 'true you,' posing both a great opportunity and a significant challenge for brands. While authenticity is in high demand, brands are expected to maintain a flawless image. Meanwhile, users and influencers must embody authenticity. Is there a way for brands to protect their image while also collaborating with genuine ambassadors? The answer is a resounding yes.

The rise in influencer marketing

Influencer Marketing started with blogging platforms in the 1990s and is now a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2023, brands worldwide allocate substantial budgets to influencer marketing. It's a phenomenon born from the ‘creator economy,’ – a software-mediated economy enabling digital creators to earn revenue from their content.

The creator economy grants a voice to the common entity and “everyman”, fostering niche communities and connecting like-minded individuals. Creators influence their communities and its interconnected ecosystem. They are innately trusted as 'community experts' who understand their audience because they are a part of it.

This relatability, approachability, and above all, trustworthiness, are why brands seek partnerships with influencers. Ultimately, word-of-mouth recommendations have always been the gold standard for lead generation, and influencer marketing is just a modern day extension of this concept, operating on a massive scale.

User-Generated Content is beautiful, but also dangerous

User-generated content (UGC) holds immense potential as it unlocks true engagement. Initiatives like National Geographic’s #WanderlustContest photo contest or #AerieReal's donation campaign based on unedited pictures by followers, are great examples. Such campaigns engage users voluntarily, bridging the gap between brands and consumers.

Influencers invest great time and effort in curating their content, making  it appear effortless but it is often the result of multiple attempts at being ‘perfect.’ However, we are all humans and at the end of the day influencers commit to a personal brand, meaning that they must – to some extent – embody their own brand day-in and day-out and this is a tiresome task. As humans we are de-facto fallible creatures and posting content that doesn’t completely resonate with specific brands may happen – and that is OK. What's crucial is that the brand is aware of it, allowing prevention rather than damage control.

Consider a successful vegan skincare brand partnering with a macro influencer who used to engage in hunting as a teenager, with a collection of nostalgic hunting photos on her social profiles. Now, human nature is perverse and trolling is a thing. A vegaphobic community, who hates these types of brands, may publicly attack both influencer and brand, resulting in a PR crisis. Weird scenario, I know. But welcome to the unpredictable world of user-generated content, where such scenarios are not far-fetched.

Navigating these challenges