We have all seen #ad, #affiliate and #spon often hidden amongst a sea of hashtags on influencer posts but things are about to get a lot clearer.
Since the birth of Instagram, we’ve seen countless normal people become insta-famous thanks to a collage of beautifully shot and, more often than not, heavily filtered images claiming to be your everyday life.
However, it didn’t take long before the odd pack of teeth whitening strips, personalised suitcase or ‘tea-tox’ shakes were casually positioned in posts, as brands began to understand the influence behind these Instagrammers and leveraged their impressive followings to help sell their products.
Love them or hate them, everyone is guilty of following influencers, whether they are passionate about beauty, fitness or music. And, with 75%1 of brands now working with influencers, that means you are going to be exposed to endorsed products at some point.
For brands it’s crucial to remember that unless partnerships feel authentic and product placement is natural it can go horribly wrong. I’m sure you all remember the post from Scarlett London as she posed awkwardly with a bottle of mouthwash in the background, leading to negative feedback for both the brand and influencer for what was perceived as a ‘very fake’ post.
As a result of this, advertising regulating bodies the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) and ASA (Advertising Standard Agency) are cleaning up the industry. The ASA highlights how all sponsored posts whether they are a gift or part of a paid partnership on a feed must be clearly labelled at the beginning of post with #gift, #sponsored or #ad. If an influencer fails to do this – no matter how much they are paid or who they are – and a complaint is made, they’ll be asked to tweak the post and warned not to do it again.
However, should influencers be caught out by the CMA heavy fines and prison sentences of up to two years could be on the agenda! Despite these strict but necessary rules it was announced this week that 16 celebrities including Alexa Chung, Ellie Goulding, Jim Chapman and Millie Macintosh have all repeatably broken these guidelines and have been accused of misleading their followers.
As a comms agency there is no doubt that we will continue to work with influencers to bring brands to life, but what should you be doing to get it right?
- Follow the rules and make sure that the influencer does as well, remember if it goes wrong your brand will be affected to
- Adopt long-term partnerships to add authenticity
- Find influencers who are a natural fit for your brand and ensure their style of photography is too
- Analyse an influencer’s audience to ensure it’s aligned with your target audience
- Have a contract drawn up outlining your influencer’s involvement together with a clear scope of work on how products should be presented in images, remembering that less is always more
1 DigiDay, 2018 – https://digiday.com/marketing/influencer-marketing-changed-5-charts/