Should influencers be more careful about who they work with?

Everyone is going on about Fyre Festival and how it has affected influencer marketing.

In the aftermath of the Fyre Festival Netflix documentary there has been a rush of news sites and bloggers jumping on the back of the event talking about how bad influencers are.

But isn’t the real question about how to protect influencers from bad brands and how to make sure partnerships work for everyone across the industry?

Why are influencers getting bad press?

Influencers have been getting it from all sides recently, from governments to advertising bodies and news publications.

Tension has been building against the influencer marketing profession for some time now but with the release of 2 documentaries uncovering the drama behind Fyre Festival there has never been a brighter spotlight on the way influencers work with brands.

Issues raised against influencers include:

  • Breaking advertising regulations? Bodies like the Advertising Standards Authority are looking to crack down on the paid sponsorship partnerships used by brands.
  • A lack of transparency? Consumers and advertising bodies are demanding more transparent brand & influencer relationships.
  • Too much power? The Fyre Festival fiasco demonstrated perfectly the power of influencer marketing and how effective it can be in promoting events, products and services. But do influencers now hold too much power?

Money talks

The rise of influencers over the years has seen payments for sponsored posts skyrocket.

Micro-influencers can make anywhere between £30,000 to £80,000 every year.

Vox, 2018

Celebrity influencers make a lot more, with some making that amount for a single post.

It’s no wonder influencers are taking little time to get to know the brands they work with when such big sums of money are on the line if they say no to a brand. Brands are using big mega money carrots to lure in influencers.


Influencers: Go into brand relationships with your eyes open

Influencers probably do due diligence on a potential Tinder date; finding out mutual friends they have in common, doing an Insta stalk and taking time to chat about things they have in common but when it comes to brands this seems to go out the window.

So what checks should influencers do on brands?

It’s your job as an influencer to do your homework. Make sure you know who you’re about to enter into a partnership with. But how?

  1. Research the company fully: you’re risking your reputation and following by not doing your homework on a company. Search the brands name on Google and click on the News tab, you’ll see recent and historic stories about the company. This is a good starting point. If anything sticks out, do some digging. You have a wealth of information at your disposal. Use it to make informed decisions about who to work with.
  2. Chat to influencers who’ve worked with the brand before: If you’ve been approached by a brand they’ve probably already worked with influencers you know or have heard of. Drop them a DM asking what it was like to work with them.
  3. Use social media: Finding out what a brand’s customers are saying about them is a good way to find out whether its a good idea to align yourself with them. If they’re known for under delivering and not doing what they say they’re going to do (aka they’re shit) think twice before you jump into bed with them. Do you really want to be known as the person who promotes shit brands?
  4. Ask lots of questions: Any brand worth working with will be able to answer your questions. Whether you want to know more about their sustainability policy, how they’ve worked with influencers before or address any concerns you may have. If they start to get annoyed by you asking questions – run. If they’ve got nothing to hide they’ll be open and honest with you.

Make sure ethics and values align

Just like any successful long term relationship, influencer/brand partnerships are based on communication and aligned values. You won’t agree on everything but making sure your core beliefs and ethics align is essential.

If you don’t, six months down the line you could be looking at that person wondering why you agreed to that first date.

If you know a brand has a track record of delivering consistently on their promises, you’re onto a winner. You’re protecting yourself from humiliation and backlash in the future by doing your research in advance.

Remember your audience: Never ever compromise your own reputation

You’ve worked hard to build your audience. It’s taken years to gain your following. But that can be lost overnight if you make the wrong decisions about how to monetise your influence.


You’ve earned the eyes and ears of your audience by being true to yourself, by posting amazing content and giving them something they value. Whether that’s amazing workout videos, sustainability tips or an insight into your wardrobe. However you’ve built your following – it’s important to stay true to yourself.

Don’t just sell yourself to the highest bidder.

Do your homework to make sure your values align with potential brand partners.

Finally, be open with your audience. Simple things like adding #ad or #advert to your post will go a long way to keeping your audience’s trust.


Mitchel runs ethical marketing agency Reward which works with brands doing good, he's passionate about social mobility, the environment and ethical business.

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