There is no denying how influential social media has been in everyone’s day to day lives. It has revolutionized the way brands relate and connect with their consumers. The popularity of this medium and the subsequent increase in ad-blocker usage has forced advertisers to find a new means to market products and services.
Enter influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is an authentic form of advertisement where social media stars and online personalities promote products and services to their loyal fan base in order to stimulate brand awareness and sales. According to a recent article by The New Yorker, traditional marketing is becoming more and more obsolete; hence, the explosion of influencer marketing, which is expected to grow into a $5 billion industry by 2020.
Influencer marketing, done right, works. However, it does come with some risks. Working with people outside of your brand can be difficult. There is a chance that an influencer would mess-up the message and the strategy you are trying to impose. You do not only run the risk of alienating your customers but you might even have a run in with the Federal Trade Commission.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission sent out a letter to several celebrities and entertainment agencies for infringing the newly minted social media guidelines the agency put out. Jennifer Lopez, who promoted Beluga Vodka on Instagram, and Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, who shared a picture of herself holding up a pack of Flat Tummy Tea still on instagram are only a few of the high profile celebrities that got reprimanded by the FTC.
The FTC has since explained the reason for their recent crackdown. According to Kristen Strader, Public Citizen campaign coordinator of the agency, the efforts to regulate influencer marketing was due to a concern over consumers’ rights to know they are being advertised to:
“Because of that, it can be really hard to tell when someone’s been paid to endorse a product or is sharing just a moment from their lives. And that’s why advertisers are using influencer marketing. So we are very much concerned about consumers knowing when they’re being advertised to.”
It pays to be informed.
As an influencer and as a brand owner who is interested in using social media for influencer marketing campaigns, the updates are something that you should be familiar with. It is extremely important that you adhere to new Federal Trade Commission endorsement guidelines. You can view the updates here or you can peruse the quick run down below:
FTC Social Media Guidelines
- The FTC requires brands to clearly state that a post is sponsored near the beginning of the post or at the very least above the fold. This should be done in unambiguous language. Hashtags like #spon and #sp are often not permitted. However, depending on the platform, #ad is acceptable.
- Statement that the post is sponsored should clearly be seen. The text color and font should not fade into the background.
- If the sponsored content is a video, the fact that it is an ad should be displayed throughout the entirety of its duration.
- The sponsored tag should be included even if the review is negative. Likewise, the tag should be visible in all types of device.
Still need a little bit more guidance? Below are a few samples of proper disclosure:
The FTC’ crackdown on sponsored content should not deter you from using influencer marketing for your business. The bottom line is influencer marketing is not a form of deception. The brand’s motivation for employing such campaigns and consumers’ needs are not mutually exclusive.
If you think about it, if you run an honest company you are proud of, there is no reason to not abide by the new rules. Better to be safe than sorry!