The clampdown has begun. Instagram influencers of all levels recently received a warning from the FTC. Many have been warned to clearly disclose their role as influencers when endorsing any products on social media. This means that not only ordinary people but celebrity sponsors and professional athletes must disclose the fact that they are being paid for their promotions.
Previously we wrote about why influencer marketing regulation may not be such a bad thing. But this post describes the ways in which influencers are being forced to disclose their affiliation with the brands they are endorsing. Regulation is a must in all forms of marketing.
Material Connections in Instagram Restrictions
The realm of creative marketing has seen an increase in the use of influencers exponentially in the last few years. But, according to the FTC, if the influencer has any connections to the advertiser, the connection must be disclosed. This connection may be via:
- Monetary compensation
- Payment in free products
- Family relationship
- Business relationship
This letter is the first step in Instagram restrictions and there’s more to come.
The effects of influencer marketing are well documented. And the growth of influencer usage has come to the attention of the FTC as they supervise this form of advertisement.
The FTC requires that all endorsements must be noticeable on the promotion. It also must not be ambiguous in its statements of material connections.
For this reason, influencers are encouraged to use certain keywords during their spiel. For example, the words “#ad” and “sponsored” are excellent ways to let consumers know that the influencer is being paid.
One of the most common strategies that influencers use on Instagram is placing the disclosure at the end of the endorsement. This is common on TV ads, but when done on Instagram, it puts the disclosure below the “more” line. This puts the disclosure off-page. FTC has enacted Instagram restrictions stating that these disclosures must be above the “more” line. This places the disclosure within the first 3 lines of text.
Another workaround is abbreviating the relationship. Rather than saying that this is a sponsored post, some influencers use “#sp.” Others use the hashtag “#partner,” or post a thank you to the brand. However, FTC has declared that “partner” is too vague, and the statement must be clearer.
Advertisers are not expected to reduce their use of influencers in marketing. However, there will have to be changed in line with Instagrams restrictions to keep the regulators happy. On the bright side, this will improve the credibility of influencers because customers will appreciate them being up-front.