As marketers, we know that using influencers is a territory to tread carefully. Along with the all of the success your brand can experience from partnering with influencers comes a whole host of legalities that must be taken into account before entering into a contractual relationship. Luckily, social media platforms recognize these challenges and are making strides to make things like sponsorship disclosure much easier for influencers and marketers.
The FTC Weighs In
The Federal Trade Commission requires that sponsored posts be disclosed clearly, and right now they aren’t seeing that happen. In fact, just last month nearly 90 influencers were served with letters telling them to label their sponsored posts. Many influencers try to skirt this rule by hiding their #sponsored behind several other hashtags or using #sp (which, by the way, is against FTC regulation). Because of all this turmoil, Instagram thought there had to be an easier way.
Instagram’s New Solution
Instagram recently announced the beta test of an update that would allow influencers to tag their sponsored photos with “paid partnership with (brand name)”. This type of tagging would eliminate any confusion on the part of the consumer as to whether an Instagram post has been paid for by a brand or not. The addition of this tag is relatively unobtrusive and doesn’t take anything away from the content of the post while still helping to clearly label it sponsored.
As a marketer, means an easier was to make sure we are complying with the FTC guidelines put in place for influencer marketing. Additionally, by providing this type of disclosure option, Instagram has opened the door for an easier way for consumers to understand that an influencer is supporting a specific brand. Transparency is key when it comes to influencer marketing and this kind of tool makes it that much easier.
What Does This Mean for Brands?
What does this new, highly-visible disclosure mean for brands and their relationships with their social audiences? There are a few things to keep in mind here:
1. You should always (ALWAYS) keep your content as authentic to your brand as possible. This means no matter if content is coming from your brand or an influencer the content direction and aesthetic should read the same.
2. Keep your expectations with influencers clear – help them get to know your brand with a brand overview discussion and key tone and style guidelines.
3. If your audience feels the connection, they won’t care if a post is sponsored. It is our job as marketers to align with the right influencers and advocates for our brands by utilizing people your audience feels a connection to.
In my opinion, this new disclosure tool will help brands keep tabs on their influencers and make sure they are meeting guidelines while also providing transparency for their audiences on sponsored content. I call that a win-win.