Instagram has evolved greatly since its inception in 2010. What was once a simple photo-sharing mobile application has now evolved to become the world’s third most-used social media platform, behind Facebook and YouTube.
Additionally, it is now the Influencer hotspot where influential individuals from all around the world gather. Brands are hopping on to the Social Media Marketing bandwagon by engaging consumers through Instagram. Many have also begun using influencers as the face and voice of their brand.
As this trend becomes increasingly commonplace, I would like to highlight the importance of brand/influencer authenticity through this article and case study of American Influencer @audreyroloff.
First off, who is @audreyroloff?
Full Name: Audrey Mirabella Roloff
Avg. Likes: 39,863
Avg. Video Views: 377,048
She is an influencer based in Oregon and is married to Jeremy Roloff. The couple were part of the reality series ‘Little People, Big World’, which centres around the Roloff family, but the two later left the show in 2018.
Why a study of @audreyroloff?
Both Audrey and Jeremy are known to provide advice on relationships and marriage, particularly covenant marriages through their blog and book, ‘A Love Letter Life’. Their perfect relationship has had Instagrammers on both sides of the fence – the believers and the sceptics.
A few days ago on June 25, Audrey suddenly uploaded an image with a lengthy caption revealing that her marriage is indeed not as perfect as it seems.
View this post on Instagram
WARNING‼️vulnerable post: To be honest, the last few weeks have been hard on our marriage. We have been working through some things and let’s just say there has been a lot of “heated fellowship,” morning hugs missed, and date nights postponed. We are overworked and exhausted from the pace we’ve been running for too long. We know we need to slow down, but as Dallas Willard puts it, “we intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it a reality.” Instead, we keep running, keep pushing, keep producing and keep squeezing all the margin out of our lives. It’s robbing our joy, stealing our peace, and hindering our ability to love. If you’ve ever looked at or read a post from us and thought “They must just have it all together.” Volume up for this one….WE DON’T🙅🏼♀️ We fight, struggle, cry, and face challenges just like anyone. I’m saying this here because if you look at my Instagram feed from the past 3 weeks you don’t see the long tearful conversations, the hurtful remarks, the compiling complaints, the critical spirits, the prideful inner dialogue, or our unloving and disrespectful attitudes. You don’t see the full picture. A few nights ago we went for an evening drive to talk through some struggles and we stumbled upon a trestle….😆 It was like God knew we needed something that would force us both to smile😅 Although you can’t tell by the photo, this wasn’t a happy night. I cried shortly after we snapped this photo. I’m saying this because I don’t want you to be deceived by the highlight reel that is “the gram.” We all have a messy behind the scenes reality. ALL OF US. Even the people you follow on social media who seem to be the most “real.” Even they have struggles they don’t share, and hurts the don’t publicize. We all do. And that’s ok! But that also means we need to remind ourselves when we’re scrolling this space that it’s not real life. So friend, if you’re comparing your life, marriage, kids, house, job, body, etc. to what you see on Instagram, remember it’s NOT the full picture. And I just want to remind ya, you are enough. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. And you are loved.
And as you would expect, this has gotten a whole lot of people into a frenzy.
Her story is a great example of how authenticity can impact an influencer as well as a brand, so let’s dive right into the three reasons why being genuine on social media is incredibly important for both influencers and brands.
1) Authenticity creates a greater sense of TRUST towards sponsored content
A while back, Instagram rolled out Branded Content Ads. This means that sponsored posts from influencers will now appear on users’ feed regardless of whether they are followers of that influencer or not.
And then just yesterday, Instagram announced that advertisements will also be making its way into our Explore feed. While these advertisements will not be appearing on the Explore grid, they will appear when a user browses through the Explore tab like the main feed.
Furthermore, despite Instagram’s efforts to increase transparency, many influencers continue to post sponsored/paid content without adding the required hashtags #ad or #sponsored or the paid partnership tag above the caption. This has unfortunately diminished the trust between many brands and consumers.
In the midst of diminished trust and heightened skepticism, brands and influencers who have succeeded in creating an air of authenticity have managed to stay ahead of their competition. It has also lent brands and influencers a more trustworthy image.
One of the brands that @audreyroloff has partnered with is @braunhealthcareus. In the post, she features her son, in a very homey environment similar to other of her organic posts.
As she kept true to her image and style, this sponsored post performed just as well as her organic posts. It received almost 2k more likes than the average number of likes received in January. It even became the 5th most liked and 4th most commented post among 13 other posts in the month of January (the month that the post was published).
One other example is Huda Beauty by Huda Kattan, who remains genuine by sticking to her Middle-Eastern roots and showing followers that she only promotes what she actually uses. As a result, Huda Kattan is now known as the TOP beauty influencer on Instagram and Huda Beauty has become the fastest growing beauty brand (according to this article right here).
2) Followers appreciate influencers who are REAL and AUTHENTIC
When Audrey uploaded the post on June 25, Instagrammers were quick to react. Many users reacted positively to her post, stating that they loved seeing her vulnerability.
Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for sharing your lives with the world. It shows you are real and what normal people go through.@auntpoo
Her vulnerability was her way of showing that she was real, that despite the great marriage and love she and Jeremy shared, they faced struggles as well.
Love the truth behind this post Auj 💕@purelifeessentials_yl
One user even commented that her authenticity was what set her apart from other influencers.
I LOVE the absolute REALNESS of your posts!!! Always true to yourself. … You are so precious to open up on social media! But THAT is what sets you and Jeremy apart from the others.@dee.just.d
These comments are proof of just how much users appreciate genuine and authentic content and how such content can make influencers appear much more relatable.
For brands, this is incredibly crucial as the influencers representing your brand impacts its authenticity. While some brands prefer to take control of the caption shared by influencers in their sponsored content, some freedom may prove to be effective. Followers are often able to tell if the caption is written by the influencer or not. If the influencer’s recommendation is genuine, followers are more likely to buy-in.
3) Authenticity gets you more LIKES and COMMENTS
Let’s take a look at some statistics from Popular Chips to see how users are reacting to the post by Audrey.
This chart below shows the number of likes received per day. On the day that she uploaded the post, her account saw a spike in the number of likes.
In numbers, this was more than a 50% increase in the number of likes as compared to what she typically received.
The difference in comments was even more drastic as seen from the spike below.
It was 4.69 times the average comments received in the month of June (where 1,886 was the number of comments she received on the post and 402 was the average number of comments received in the month of June).
1,886 / 402 = 4.69 times
Also, despite being only 2 days old, the post has quickly climbed to become her most liked and commented post for the month of June.
Imagine what this could do for your brand.
Followers will be more open towards your brand’s advertisements and products. They will also be more engaged, achieving the very purpose of your brand’s presence on social media.
Be the brand who receives lots of double-taps on their images; who has so many comments about how relatable your brand is that your PR team finds it hard to keep up with the replies.
The best way to achieve that is through authenticity.