David Beckham endorses the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Social media success thrives on authenticity. In a social media-powered world, relationships are built on trust and honest insight.

Not to mention that anyone can build a loyal audience of readers, watchers, fans, followers and friends online.

So tell me again why marketers still insist on hiring celebrity spokespeople to endorse their products?

A legacy of success

Marketers have used celebrities to hawk their products for decades. In the 1990s, consumers saw George Foreman pitching the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine and suspended disbelief.

They never questioned the former heavyweight champion’s allegiance to the product he so enthusiastically endorsed on late-night television infomercials.

Even if they did, there was no easy way to validate his relationship with the grill or its manufacturers.

In today’s social media landscape – where celebrities tweet their every move, update their status on Facebook, and upload home movies to YouTube – hiring a spokesperson who doesn’t actually use your products or subscribe to your services is not a good investment.

Just think: If George Foreman went out to dinner every night and checked into every restaurant he visited on Foursquare (but never seemed to cook at home on the grill that bears his name), would the grill manufacturer benefit from the audience Foreman is building on social media? Obviously not.

Image via George Foreman Cooking Facebook Page.

Authentic endorsements are everywhere

In a social media world that thrives on authenticity, it’s better to retain your audience’s trust by forming long-term relationships that are true to both the brand sponsor and the talent (or spokesperson).

Today, anyone can become a digital celebrity. With a smartphone and a YouTube channel, you can start creating video content. With a computer and an internet connection, you can start a blog for free. With a camera, you can start uploading photos to Instagram.

On every one of these channels, quality content creators are building valuable audiences. Those content creators are just as influential (if not more for the audiences they serve) as David Beckham, Gisele Bundchen or James Franco.

These content creators authentically endorse, use, and subscribe to your products and services. No matter what you sell, I guarantee you can find the right content creator who really does love what you make (or what you do.)

The popular blog Small Kitchen College features several recipes that make use of the George Foreman Grill.

You know who actually uses the George Foreman Grill?

College coeds. In fact, CheapScholar.org, a website dedicated to helping make college affordable in the United States, recommended that college students invest in a Foreman Grill and cut back on their university meal plan to save on tuition. But CheapScholar isn’t the only content creator targeting college-age kids with content about the Grill.

Take Big Girls, Small Kitchen, for example. They’ve created an entire website dedicated to college cooking called Small Kitchen College. The blog’s 44 contributors are dorm-room chefs who make the most out of cooking healthy, fun and delicious meals without a full kitchen.

One of their contributors, Sarah Leibach, describes herself as a senior at the George Washington University with a “…somewhat unhealthy crush on her [George Foreman] grill.”

Already, that sounds like a ringing (and incredibly authentic) endorsement for the brand. And at least two other contributors to Big Girls, Small Kitchen seem to have the same affinity for the dorm-room appliance.

What if Russell Hobbs, Inc. (the company that actually manufactures the grill) got behind the idea that college dorm-room cooking can be a reality with only one appliance?

What if their marketing folks offered to create a Big Girls, Small Kitchen version of the grill and leveraged Sarah’s weekly content to inspire college kids to embrace the simple cooking ideas she adores?

Imagine if Sarah and her team managed to convince even five percent of the 20 million new college students every year to purchase a $20 Foreman grill?

What if…

What if you actually invested in the content creators who already authentically embrace your product or service?

Ask yourself…

Who has already authentically embraced your brand?