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The Impact of Trusted Messengers on Marketing Strategies

In a post-COVID world, the creator economy is a reinvigorated space. Traditionally, messaging around sensitive topics like mental health, public health and gun safety were shared out by health organizations, government agencies or other trusted institutions. Today, influencers play a vital role in sharing important messages and driving meaningful change—reshaping how marketers partner with trusted messengers to address key social issues. Now more than ever, nano to celebrity influencers play a pivotal role in shaping online conversations and creating impact.

Through Creators for Good, our in-house talent engagement arm, we leverage influencers as trusted messengers to share critical messages with the communities that benefit most. These influencers are trusted to be the messengers of vital information—a sentiment that is at the heart of our work. To execute and connect with target communities, we conduct outreach to see what topics are most important to influencers and their audiences. This is the most impactful way to pair our messages with the people and communities who genuinely care. We know that many influencers are ready to raise their hand and join the conversation on several topics. With the support of our team, we can create lasting relationships between influencers and causes.

To accomplish this, marketers must have a pulse on the evolving impact of the creator economy and influencer marketing. Influencers who want to raise their hand for specific topics should feel empowered to. It’s an extension of their platform to talk in real time about what is important to them. The opportunity influencers have to use their carefully curated platforms to discuss meaningful topics has a direct throughline to impact their communities. These communities are also built on trust, and an influencer’s community is one of the most vibrant and special parts of the job. This impacts the shift we see with an influencer’s ability to hold meaningful conversations and authentically reach their audience. It’s in the job title to influence, afterall.

There is also an implied level of trust and respect that comes along with the choice to follow someone’s life. When an influencer raises their voice on a topic they are passionate about, it resonates with their audience because of their vulnerability and honest connection in the parasocial relationship. This is not a traditional PSA or a professional shoot, there is no script, no lights—it’s a concerned community member using their platform to speak to others in their community.

To leverage that trust, we partner with influencers who have personal connections or genuine interest in the issues we address. Collaborating with NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney, whose grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, to raise Alzheimer's awareness and teaming up with Grammy-award winner Megan Thee Stallion to foster open dialogues about mental health among young adults are powerful examples of the potential of influencer marketing.

There is immense value in this peer-to-peer approach. It sets the path for Creators for Good and our partners to form natural connections with these trusted messengers. Influencers who put their lives online and share their thoughts on social issues as much as they share their day-to-day content, can impact their communities at a direct level. From posting resources and donation links, to live updates—there are many ways for influencers to authentically join the conversation. The creator economy is evolving rapidly, and the role of trusted messengers will continue to change.

As time goes on, marketers will rely more on influencers and talent to deliver messaging on sensitive topics. While there are benefits to partnering with trusted messengers to shape conversations and drive change, it is also important to acknowledge the challenges associated with navigating this new environment. Influencers are people first—not institutions or agencies—and we must give grace and respect their opinions, humanity and lived experiences. These individuals have the right to decide when to speak, process, listen or not comment. While it is incredibly meaningful when a trusted messenger joins a conversation, it is not mandatory for influencers to comment when they may be navigating the subject themselves in real time. Some influencers may need to educate themselves with resources before using their platform. This is the vital distinction between trusted agencies and trusted messengers. For the creator economy to be effective in this way, it still requires partnership and education from subject matter experts. Influencers with communities who deeply trust them and look to them for guidance could often feel pressure to say the right thing. It's a complexity that is being navigated on a case-by-case basis. When an influencer’s personal brand is also their full-time job, there is a valid hesitancy to speak publicly before having the necessary information and tools.

Creators for Good and the Ad Council are passionate about trusted messengers joining our work as true collaborators, and will continue to explore the benefits and ways of activating trusted messengers across our work. We are grateful for our partners and all talent for their unwavering support, collaboration and contributions. As the creator economy evolves, we look forward to continuing the conversation on ways trusted messengers can inspire and create meaningful change.

Photo by George Milton/Pexels


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