Murad Osmann and his wife Nataly, the couple behind the #Followmeto project with a combined Instagram following of 5.3m are setting out to build a community connecting brands with travel influencers.
Through #followmetotravel the couple publishes travel-related articles like “Best 10 Parks in Moscow” by Miloslav Chemodanov, Chief editor of ParkSeason, a park guide.
The site is also a place where travel bloggers can set up accounts and talk to one another.
Ultimately, however, the purpose of #followmetotravel is to create a platform for sponsored content. For example, a place where a hotel brand could sponsor an influencer’s post about top travel tips.
#Followmeto and disclosure regulations
But one passage from an interview with Murad Osmann in Adweek earlier this week troubled me: “We’re very specific about how we try to keep the integrity of the projects. If you go to our Instagram page, you will never see a direct commercial,” Murad told Lauren Johnson from Adweek.
As consumers, we don’t like feeling hoodwinked. To obfuscate a commercial arrangement between brand and influencer does far more harm than good to both parties.
We won’t buy from brands if we feel duped by them. We won’t follow influencers if we feel they haven’t been honest with us.
Social media influencers as the new celebrities
Incidentally, in doing so the couple replaced previous spokeswoman and fashion model Heidi Klum giving yet more weight to the argument that social media influencers are not an alternative to celebrities; they are the new celebrities.
Growing pains of influencer marketing
As a discipline influencer marketing is suffering some growing pains. My take on it is that there is a bright future as long as authenticity, transparency, long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships between brand and influencer can be forged and allowed to blossom. Relationships which allow both brand and influencer to explore deeply each other’s values and proposition to create genuinely creative and compelling content which will resonate, entertain and inform key audiences. And, ultimately nudging this audience to take action in some form.
Influencers should be led by the carrot of enlightened self interest rather than be feel hit by the stick of regulation.
But failure to comply with regulation may kill the goose that laid the golden influencer marketing egg through heightened legislation designed to protect us, the consumer.