Are Instagram Influencers Really Just Peddling Advertisements?Author: The Influencers
Almost from the very beginning, social media has been involved in rewriting the rules of online advertising. Brands developed blogs, responded to comments, developed communities and soon realised that social media activity could often develop a momentum of its own. The first brand ambassadors and influencers were essentially savvy online users who realised that building their own networks of thousands of fans and followers would sooner or later attract the attention of advertisers, who would view them as a valuable commodity in marketing terms.
Instagram: The influencer’s natural habitat
From an influencer’s perspective, Instagram is probably the most productive platform on which to ply their trade. Here, you can hardly move for beautifully tanned and toned men and women living ‘la dolce vita’ (the sweet life) or ‘la vida loca’ (the crazy life) depending on your take on all this. Essentially, these are guys and gals who have developed a talent for acting and talking much like ‘ordinary’ people do. Yet, according to their posts, these influencers travel the world permanently on vacation, driving flash cars and wearing expensive clothes wherever they go.
Because they seem just like you and me, influencers just can’t seem to stop themselves from talking about their unbelievably glossy lifestyle: what they own, who they’ve seen, where they are staying, and more. And, of course, many influencers have also promoted casino games. Most even go so far as to list the products and services they talk about underneath their post. We all love them, because they’re always ‘characters’, perhaps a bit wilder and more outspoken than your real friends, but close enough to still seem lifelike and authentic. But nowadays, the truth is rarely quite that straightforward.
Influencer as a career move
Once an Instagram user acquires 10,000 followers, it’s quite common for certain companies to recruit them to review and recommend products. With traditional modes of advertising often ignored by many audiences, brands are turning more and more to influencers to mould consumer behaviour. From a company perspective, a successful young influencer has a quantifiable reach and has established a highly trustful reputation with a certain target audience. That’s all the things a company seeks to build through their own marketing, so giving influencers a reward of some kind in return for placing brand advertising messages in their posts is now seen as a very viable option.Source:Pixbay
Genuine recommendation or advert in disguise?
Many younger Instagrammers now aspire to become influencers – a situation some companies see as potentially very profitable. And many would-be influencers, seeking the fortune that accompanies the fame, are not too worried about the way their own opinions and popularity are often being commercially manipulated to acquire corporate profits.
However, advertising law sees things rather differently. Influencer posts which contain advertising messages made to look like friendly suggestions should be labelled as an ‘advertisement’ or ‘publicity’. But too many influencers get away with using descriptors like ‘sponsored’ or ‘promoted post’, which marketing lawyers say are insufficient, given that these online stars can make mega bucks just by claiming to be just sharing their own personal life.
Federal Trade Commission intervention
Since the Federal Trade Commission began contacting influencers they felt were not disclosing their ‘paid advertising’ relationships with brands, there have been some new developments. Now, both Instagram and Facebook require their influencers to tag a brand within their post, which will result in a ‘paid partnership’ message being displayed. These two major platforms hope this action will be enough to persuade the FTC they have brought in some transparency and are serious about stamping out this form of covert advertising which has been successfully misleading young consumers.