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Influencers are ‘extra-fraudinary’ and don’t have enough checks and balances on them: Shelly Horton

Lifestyle and news commentator Shelly Horton has argued there aren’t enough processes and rules around influencers.

“An influencer is a someone who has bought 50,000 followers on Instagram and poses in a bikini with a green smoothie.

“To me influencers, they’re ‘extra-fraudinary’, and there aren’t enough checks and balances on them,” Horton claimed at Mumbrella360.

Bridget Lorimer, Simone Landes, Stephen Digby, Aaron Crowther and Shelly Horton at Mumbrella360

“Whether they are a celebrity expert or influencer is somewhat redundant.

“For me it is not a person defined by the number of followers they have on Instagram, it’s not the person that looks amazing in their swimsuit, and it’s not the person that is in the media every day.

“What we are talking about here is somebody that holds a position of trust in the mind of the consumer,” Crowther said.

Agreeing with Crowther and defining an influencer in the eyes of the law, co-founder and principal of Digby von Muenster Law, Stephen Digby, said there is no distinction between a celebrity, influencer or expert.

“Really influence is all about being able to affect purchasing decisions and those purchasing decisions could be made by anyone.

“It could be a lawyer, who knows, the end effect is being able to affect that purchasing decision,” he said.

Bridget Lorimer, talent manager at chefsINK, proposed a different definition saying you can have crossovers between influencer classifications, however, each type of ‘influencer’ brings different reach to different audiences.

“A celebrity brings you mass reach, they have generally come through traditional media and they have cut through in a very noisy market.

“An influencer is more targeted and some of them have huge followings.

“The experts are more defined, they have the credibility, they’ve worked and studied in an industry so they have earned their reputation,” she said.

Horton was the moderator for the session at Mumbrella360

The phenomenon of influencers buying followers was also discussed, with Crowther contending it may look like a bigger issue than it actually is because “if you are invested in it and have a belief in analytics it is less of an issue”.

“PR agencies should deep dive to find out if they are all real and to check the social authority,” the Magnum & Co MD suggested.

Legally, Digby said buying fake followers could “certainly be misrepresentation”.

“There is a real risk of that already because you are representing something and encouraging a commercial decision based on things that are untrue,” Digby continued.

In light of the issue, Crowther said agencies and brands using infleuncers needed to do their due diligence.

“It is being upfront about costs, expectations, people don’t shirk at the idea of paying money, as long as its got a good business case.”

At the conclusion of the session Horton posed a question to the panel and asked how brands and agencies can improve the levels of collaboration between influencers, celebrities and experts.

“Be damn clear about your expectations and objectives, and realise that not all influencers are created equal, nor are all brands at the same point in their journey, so take a longer-term strategic view,” Magnum & Co’s Crowther said.

“Start at the end, don’t start at the beginning of what or who you are, start at the end of what you want,” Digby von Muenster Law’s Digby said.

“Right fit, clear brief, transparency of communication and flexibility because things will inevitably go wrong,” Simone Landes, founder and director of The Lifestyle Suite said.

“Understand exactly what you want, understand what you are going into, understand how long you want a relationship and make that relationship work,” Lorimer said.

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