A mixed media mosaic of musings by Mark Kaigwa.
Had an exchange with @Waithash, @Roomthinker and @Wanjiku on Twitter the other day. Check it out here. This is just me thinking out loud so chime in if it’s incoherent.
Disclosure protects the trust of the audience, keeps the influencer in a position to create good/better and honest content and keeps the brands at bay while raising the brand’s ambition to create good content themselves.
The Good Exhaustive Answer
I think disclosure is not just the gold standard, but the basic standard. Brands err on the side of use/misuse/abuse and influencers err on the side of “Can I get paid? Will I get paid? I’d like to get paid” and disclosure is leverage for the actual “product” being exchanged i.e. the audience to retain the currency between the two parties: trust.
What I mean is this: the influencer develops trust with their audience. Their witty tweets, their blog posts and content and by extension, their “eyeballs” and/or pageviews are based upon trust and time.
That’s the currency they used to develop a following and a reputation. The brand doesn’t have the time to earn their own trust BUT they want the audience. This is important, it’s not the influencer they want, it’s the AUDIENCE. That’s the actual product here. They want access to the audience and they want to commoditise the trust the influencer has.
With this in mind what saddens me is when people think it’s THEM the brands want to engage with. It seldom is. It’s trust that’s at stake.
So what does disclosure do? It protects trust and makes the brand keep things above board. There are plenty of people who the brand explicitly tells “We don’t want you to tell people about us.” or “Just write it like you would.” or “Don’t mention we’re giving you this product/service/trip/money” and that jeopardises the TRUST with the audience.
The audience on the other hand don’t mind if you actually benefit from them or that you sustain yourself. You can do that - but when you disclose it it gives you leverage to create smarter content that only enhances your trust. Why don’t we have people giving the shortcomings, failings and troubles of devices? Because if there’s disclosure then the brand knows it risks you being HONEST with your audience and the brand knows it can’t armtwist you later on when you say something negative. You err on the side of honesty.
Sadly brands have such low social media education themselves they’re dominated with traditional media thinking. They pay journalists, editors and others for publicity - either through their proxies of public relations firms or directly through media houses. They adapt that and want to know one’s price and since for the newspapers the advertising-value-equivalent is measured in inches then why not ask a blogger/tweep to give you X number of blog posts or Y number of tweets? Wrong ideology and philosophy to the wrong medium.
Everybody loses when there’s no disclosure, the brand remains with the wrong mindset, the influencer wins in the short term and loses long term while the audience loses overall.
I looked for this song for sooooo long. Kept ending up with the 90s Mint Condition original. Yay!