Being a social media influencer is a lucrative career. From the outside, it looks like a lot of traveling to luxurious islands, free products every day, the latest releases to try out and thousands of pounds in the bank for every post.
But we’ve also heard the complaints from influencers that free products don’t pay the bills, every month is different financially and with one wrong post, their career could be over.
It’s only natural that those who work in the world of influencer marketing and see all of these influencers being taken on free trips to the most amazing places, being gifted free Chanel bags and the fees in which they charge as a possible job route for themselves.
If you work on the insides, surely you know more than anyone how to best go about becoming the influencer instead of the marketer.
Related: Can Influencing Be Taught?
ADVERTISING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I feel like I’m always having a moan about advertising on social media, but I wouldn’t have to if people just stuck to the rules, now would I? What is it with influencers being so afraid to add two little letters to their posts?
I know it’s been researched that consumers do tend to scroll past posts that are claimed as ‘ads’ and engage more with organic posts, but let’s just keep to advertising laws, shall we?
I mean, it’s really rather simple. If money is exchanged for a post on social media, it should be labeled as an ‘ad’ and the word should be at the very start of the post, not at the end or stuck in the middle of a bunch of hashtags to hide it.
If there is no money exchanged and the product is gifted, the influencer should also declare it as so. With a simple #gifted, the post is abiding by the rules.
If the influencer receives commission through a discount code, the post should still contain either #ad or #affiliatelink or #aff. Either way, it’s quite transparent that the influencer will receive some form of monetary gains from purchases made through the code.
Related: Should Influencers be Certified in Advertising?
So when I was scrolling through my own Instagram one day, I spotted a post by an Irish influencer who works full-time as a PR/Influencer Marketer/Publicist.
As I said before, it’s not very uncommon that the marketer becomes the influencer. And so here we had a perfect example. The post contained a discount code and was very sales-y. Yet there was no mention of #ad, #affiliatelink or #aff anywhere to be seen.
I won’t name and shame the influencer marketer in question as I’m no grass, but I also wrote something similar before on the subject of naming and shaming influencers which you may like to debate with yourself.
Related: Should We Name and Shame Influencers Who Buy Their Followers?
The influencer/marketer had posted nine stories to go alongside the post and at the beginning I thought she was just reviewing a service she had purchased herself until one of the stories contained ‘Gifted’ (Five of nine stories included ‘Gifted’) and can all be seen in a highlight reel on the influencer’s page.
So if she could include ‘Gifted’ on some of her stories for 24 hours, why not on a permanent post?
WHAT TO DO
I was unsure whether to personally message the influencer/marketer and kindly ask whether she had just forgotten to include the declaration (hopefully nudging her to add it) but I decided against it.
I’m not the influencer police (even though someday I would love to be) and it’s not really any of my business, even if she is misleading her followers.
I didn’t report the post to the ASA or Instagram because, 1) I have a life and 2) again, I’m not the influencer police.
The post annoyed me more than others because this influencer is also a PR/influencer marketer. If anything, she should be leading by example, not playing along with the ‘let’s pretend this isn’t an ad’ game.
Related: The Line Between Sponsored Posts and Plain Old Adverts
HOW CAN WE EXPECT INFLUENCERS TO GET IT RIGHT?
Influencers are always coming under fire for not declaring where money has crossed hands and where posts are ads, not third-party reviews. But how can we get angry at influencers for getting it wrong when those working with the influencers can’t even get it right?
There are simple guidelines in place for everyone, no matter how big or small your following. If money is exchanged for a post, it’s an #ad. If an item has been gifted, it’s #gifted. If the post contains a discount code or affiliate link, it should be labeled #afflink.
It’s really that simple.
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