Is it OK that a young woman famous for participating in a reality show gets paid 3.000 euros for an Instagram post that took her ten minutes to prepare? Is it just as acceptable to promote a sunglasses brand as a dietary supplement, a betting site or an alcohol brand? Where is the line between advertising and content?
In Spain, recently we have seen some controversy over child youtubers. The NGO Save the Children has asked the juvenile prosecution division to act in the case of two girls, six and seven years old respectively, who promote make-up products on youtube. They are daughters of a couple of youtubers and their channel has 11 million subscribers. Aside from the possible objectification of the girls, Save the Children has stated that their videos perpetuate macho stereotypes and trivialize gender violence.
It is true that, for someone outside this sector, it may be surprising to discover that the youngest of the Kardashian sisters gets 1 million US dollars for a post on her social media; or that Samsung paid a fortune for the famous Oscar selfie. That said, no one seems surprised by the fact that a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl costs 6 million dollars despite the fact that the effectiveness of TV advertising is increasingly more than questionable.
It is also true that it´s actually not at all easy to become an influencer: Ask all those poor Instagram Husbands. A lot of very hard work is needed in order to be among the influencers who earn the most; they must submit to the draconian demands of brands; they run the risk that a certain promotion can turn against them, as seen with the controversial Fyre Festival; and maintain a balance between the promotional content and the content of value so as not to scare away the followers and thus kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Influencers yes, but with some rules
At Canela PR, we have a lot of experience working with influencers. In a time of the credibility crisis of traditional media and the fragmentation of audiences, influencers are the most effective way to reach the millennial generation and Generation Z, who don´t tend to consume conventional media. We´re also aware that those who dedicate their time to the full time work of Influence deserve to be remunerated because you can’t pay the rent (and the Husbands) in products.
That said, we also think that not everything goes when it comes to promoting a brand using a celebrity hype, a prescriber or a micro-influencer. Collaborations and partnerships with influencers should be managed by rules in order to avoid misunderstandings and possible abuses.
For example, various organisations from the sector in the United Kingdom presented last year an influencers marketing code of good practices. In Spain, we also have reference documents such as the Guide for working with Influencers, published by the Spanish professional body for public relations agencies ADECEC.
These are some of the recommendations contained in these documents:
- Influencers must clearly identify the promotional content as such, whether it is a post, an event or a product placement action.
- In the same way, brands that use influencers´ quotes or recommendation in their marketing materials should specify that it is advertising.
- It is also necessary to emphasize the advertising nature of affiliate links, sponsored posts and other types of branded content.
- Affirmations about the advantages and benefits of products should be supported by objective data, as in conventional advertising.
- It is necessary to respect the legislation of each country on the advertising limitations of especially sensitive products (betting, alcohol, etc.).
- Advertising aimed or featured by underage protagonists (the so-called kid influencers) should be subject to a special protection and responsibility.
- An influencer is responsible for the legal consequences that may derive from its promotional content, such as denouncements for misleading advertising.
- Collaborations between brands and influencers should be formalized through a written contract that specifies the conditions, duration and remuneration.
Brands and PR agencies that work with influencers should keep these basic rules in mind. Otherwise, we are risking of permanently damaging both the brand and the influencers’ credibility. We also run the risk that the institutions may end up promoting more restrictive legislations for this activity, as in the case of conventional advertising.
Do you think that influencers have credibility or is it obvious that they are paid? Share your thoughts on social media!