Blog post

With trust in super influencers at an all time low, where should your influencer marketing efforts turn?

15 Jun, 2020
With trust in super influencers at an all time low, where should your influencer marketing efforts turn?

Do you remember the Scott Disick Bootea Shake Instagram post?

It’s a few years ago now, but if you follow celebrity and influencer marketing, you’re into the Kardashians or you slow down for social media car crashes, then it’s one that’s hard to forget.

Disick had partnered with Bootea Shake and had clearly been asked to send out a post promoting the brand at 4pm Eastern Standard Time in the US. How do we know that? Well… he wrote it in the caption of his Instagram post.

“Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below”, goes the post, before adding “Caption:” and the text Disick presumably should have stuck to “Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!”

It must be nice to have a marketing person telling you what your summer workout routine is/was.

A build up in celebrity influencer (mis)trust


The ‘Disick post’ comes from a time when influencer marketing was even less supervised than it is today. Note that there’s no #sponsored hashtag included, nor any indication that it is in ‘partnership’ with the brand. Forgive and forget then?

In consumers’ minds though that hasn’t been possible, partially because there are constant reminders of just how easy it is to mistrust a celebrity or super influencer. Whenever we see a beaming celebrity next to a new brand of lipstick, a boutique potato speed peeler or a particularly attractive garden gnome it’s impossible to believe that they actually use the product, or even know what it is.

Little Mix once managed a Disick-esque post with the marketer’s question ‘How’s this copy Jade?’ included in the caption. A collection of tea brands (why is it always tea?!) ran super influencer campaigns that consisted solely of celebrities posing next to the respective tea packaging.

Is there anything nowadays that fosters mistrust as much as an Instagram photo of a celebrity next to a piece of packaging?

Trust, particularly in today’s landscape, is a commodity that brands cannot afford to waste. Posts that seem inauthentic are quickly highlighted and ‘called out’. The more ‘Disick posts’ there are related to a brand, the more we mistrust them in the moments that matter. 

There are still influencers out there who are trusted

As far back as 2016 this was a recognised problem amongst consumers and those within influencer marketing. But consumers had found the answer. Nearly a third of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger than a celebrity.

When you consider the celebrity-next-to-a-piece-of-packaging photos it’s easy to see why. 

Micro-influencers are seen as peers

It’s very interesting to see non-celebrity influencers described in the above research as “influencers that [consumers] consider peers”. This gets to the heart of the trust issue. Rightly or wrongly we believe that Disick and Little Mix and Kendall Jenner exist on a different plane. Presumably a private one...

Micro-influencers though, are ‘people like us’. We can’t picture Kanye West making a cup of tea, but we can picture the micro-influencer who lives in Barking and has 7,000 followers doing just that. It’s a truism of sales and marketing that we have always bought from people ‘just like us’. We still do that, it’s just now we do it online, on the recommendation of micro influencers.

Whether the topic is the latest product they’ve tried or something more important we trust them because we can see that their experience is incredibly similar to our own.

‘More likely to purchase’ is an important phrase

Now, there is a chance - just a chance, mind - that the Disick and Little Mix posts were on purpose. They potentially fall into the classic sub-genre of social media posts where brands get something spectacularly wrong on social media ‘on purpose’ and generate a load of views for themselves, following the ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ rule.. For the still-perfect example of this, see what happened when a social media-savvy journalist ‘did Twitter’ as a sandwich paste brand.

We don’t believe it, but even if the above was true then what would the brands have accomplished? They may have achieved a larger reach than usual, but reach typically isn’t the end goal of successful marketing campaigns. That end goal is usually, of course, increased revenue.

Because we don’t trust our eyes when we see a super influencer with a product we don’t act on what we see. We don’t trust that the products are well thought of by the person in the picture. The super influencer post (unintentionally hilarious or not) wins attention, but it will never win hearts, minds, wallets and action.

The 2020 super influencer picture

It’s still very possible in 2020 to go into partnership with Scott Disick or any one of many celebrity influencers. As in 2016 though, the question remains about whether you should. How much is it worth to your brand to get a celebrity-next-to-a-piece-of-packaging photo? What increase in sales will it generate?

But there are alternative options, options that favour partnering with people who have their peers’ trust (with good reason) and who drive their buying behaviour to genuinely great products and brands.

We think we’d rather take those alternative options. And we’re seeing more and more brands who think along similar lines.

Written by Harriot Rockey
COO, Influence Network

Influence Network is an influencer platform which identifies the most aligned micro-influencers from the entire social web, then rapidly deploy and manage campaigns at an unprecedented scale, before reporting on trackable engagement and ROI. We’re the Double-Click of influencer marketing and we’re here to solve your influencer problems. Sound interesting? Get in touch on INFO@INFLUENCE.NETWORK or 0203 918 8582


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Harriot Rockey


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Registered in England and Wales: 10815710

Registered Office:

20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU