Who is your favorite Social Media Influencer?
Is it Shane Dawson?
Could it be Tyler Oakley?
Maybe it’s Lilly Singh?
What all these social media influencers have in common is that they primarily make their massive amounts of income from sponsored content. In the current ever-changing media landscape, brands and corporations desire to find the best way to promote and market their product or service to the widest possible audience. Whether it is Tyler Oakley promoting Audible on his Youtube channel, or Lilly Singh promoting Olay on her Instagram page, companies are using everyday people to leverage a large audience through seemingly organic content. As seen in the PBS Documentary “Generation Like” (here), brands are manipulating social media influencers to essentially become walking billboards for specific products or services. Which in turn allows these influencers to make bank by essentially signing their soul over to corporate pandering. As per the Instagram Rich List by Hooper HQ (here), Kylie Jenner is the highest paid influencer on the platform by a long-shot, making a whopping one million dollars per sponsored Instagram post.
But when does social media posts stop being organic and start becoming simply corporate glorification? How can the social media landscape become more transparent when it comes to paid partnerships with brands?
This is where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) comes in to save the day.
The FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines read like the Ten Commandments of Social Media marketing world.
What Influencers should keep in mind when endorsing a product: (As seen here)
- “Endorsers must disclose relationships if it is sponsored content”
- “Disclosures need to be easily noticed and understood”
- “Do not intentionally use unrepresentative testimonials to mislead customers”
I believe that if influencers were more open and transparent about using their social media presence as a platform for product placement then those influencers would gain even more of a loyal fanbase, which in turn would mean more success for the corporation that fund them.
Do you believe there is a balance between organic and sponsored content on social media? Let me know in the comments below!