The influencer marketing industry is losing its authenticity, and brands need to engage with content creators differently to build enduring relationships, according to one DTC brand that now tries to avoid using the word influencer internally.

“When we think about trying to ‘influence’ someone, that can feel like it’s quite deceiving,” Lauren Spearman, Head of Brand Advocacy at British furniture company, told the recent Mediatel Future of Brands event in London.

“When we can influence through credibility and trust, that’s much more powerful,” she said. That means that relationships have become more important than a scramble for virality.

More personal relationships with content creators builds loyalty and creates more long term payoffs, she believes. (For more details, read WARC’s report:’s five tips for better influencer marketing.)

“The best coverage – the best pieces of work we’ve done – (have been) when we have had that relationship,” she explained,

“We have to think about how the customer will see that content. If they see that there's been a bit of a relationship or a long-term build-up they’re much more likely to enjoy that content, resonate with it, and consider us as a brand.”

The definition of ‘influencer’ is also undergoing a rethink: increasingly important ‘influencers’ for the brand are the everyday customers who buy MADE products and share their interior design style and inspiration all over social media.

That works because people are keen to peek into the rooms of others, and for MADE, user-generated content (UGC) has become a huge opportunity as digitally-native younger consumers feel more comfortable making ‘big ticket’ purchases like furniture online.

UGC is especially crucial in areas where MADE doesn’t have retail showrooms, allowing potential customers to see how the company’s products can be styled.

“We are tapping thousands and thousands of (pieces of) beautiful content every week from our customers,” Spearman said. “It’s really something that we are tapping into, to see what more we can do with that.”

At the same time, the brand is also using its own employees as influencers: “(Consumers) often don’t really trust brands, but often you can trust the people behind the brand… I think that’s often an untapped resource,” she added.

Sourced from WARC