In business, the concept of recruiting a big star to advertise products is nothing new. For decades, brands have been willing to hand over big money to well-respected celebrities in exchange for their public loyalty. However, social media has complicated this picture.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of the ‘influencer’: a high-profile figure paid by companies to use social media to advertise products.
An ‘influencer’ is not necessarily a celebrity
You can probably recall some of your favourite celebrities taking to their social media pages to enthuse about new products. They might even disclose that the post is an ad.
However, social media influencers of today aren’t necessarily just the familiar big stars of stage and screen from years past. Some influencers might have risen to fame simply through building up a large following on their social media accounts.
Influencer marketing: a very modern form of advertising
As more and more ads have fallen prey to ad-blocking software, marketers have reacted with understandable concern. However, with ad blockers remaining incapable of detecting influencer content – at least if shared in the traditional way – as ads, you can elude the software’s clutches.
Of course, a core tenet of advertising is to go where your target audience goes – and you can certainly do this by pursuing influencer marketing. With this strand of marketing, you can more easily reach customers who tend to be drawn to their smartphones more than the TV or radio.
Still, influencer marketing has opened up fresh risks
The celebrity world is no stranger to unexpected scandals; just think of golfer Tiger Woods’ extra-marital affairs or celebrity chef Paula Deen’s racist comments. As a result, brands that were previously closely tied to those stars have been forced to speedily distance themselves.
This can easily occur in the social media influencers’ sphere, as these stars often act in ways not approved beforehand by agencies. This has led Marketing Land to declare a “Wild West” environment – but at least now, it looks like it has a sheriff…
A raft of new advertising laws for influencers
In October, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) launched new guidance for social influencers. This guidance is enshrined in an online Influencer’s Guide touching on subjects including what the ASA deems to be an ad and how influencers can make it clear when they are advertising.
The ASA has already taken action – including implementing bans – on influencers falling short of crucial rules. Louise Thompson and Millie Macintosh, for example, have recently incurred the ASA’s wrath. However, as the Fyre Festival scandal recalled by Cosmopolitan has shown, it is also crucial for brands to avoid causing embarrassment to influencers; you must deliver what they advertise on your behalf.
Call us on 0161 237 9680 to let us guide you further through influencer marketing’s tricky waters.