When influencers fail, it’s embarrassing for both them and your brand.
Paid influencers can boost your brand’s awareness and, in some cases, drive sales. The problem with paid? There are a ton of ways it can go wrong. Paid influence requires your brand to put a lot of trust in celebrity influencers’ hands – and when they mess up, it reflects poorly on you.
It’s no secret that celebrities post paid promotions on social. And while many consumers like to think that influencers at least use and enjoy the product and write their own captions, thanks to some notable influencer fails, we know that’s not true.
In the post mishap heard round the world, Scott Disick accidentally revealed how little involvement he has with his Bootea promotions. In his Instagram promotion, Scott copied and pasted Bootea’s full instructions, including the phrase “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below,” and blasted it out to all his followers. Though he deleted the post quickly, the secret was already out. People instantly took screenshots and ridiculed Scott across social media.
In which Scott Disick copied and pasted the email from the skinny tea marketing team onto his Instagram caption pic.twitter.com/ocVdxi4jaZ
— frankie frankie (@frankiegreek) May 19, 2016
While Scott’s the most prevalent example of influencer copy fails, he’s not alone. A few months ago, UK girl group Little Mix had their own copy issue when they published a sponsored post on their Instagram account. The caption included the giveaway text: “How’s this copy jade.” “Jade” is referring to band member Jade Thirlwall.
Little Mix didn’t catch nearly as much shade as Scott did. For starters, they’re not as big as the Kardashians, who have already been under fire for multiple barely disclosed brand relationships. Also, the phrasing, “How’s this copy jade” suggests that Jade actually had a hand in writing the copy, or at least had final approval.
Rule Breakers – Getting in Trouble With the FTC
But even though the FTC is cracking down on brands, the commission has been frustratingly unclear about what disclosure actually looks like in practice. Much of that is left up to the discretion of brands and their influencers.
As Buzzfeed recently reported, brands have largely shifted in working with celebrity influencers to working with micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are becoming increasingly popular because, even though they have fewer followers than Instagram celebs like Chrissy Teigen, they have higher engagement rates among their following.
The issue? Not all influencers are disclosing their relationships with the brand. That further blurs the lines between what’s considered ethical in influence.
Even if influencers do include disclosure through a hashtag like #ad, #sp or #gotitfree doesn’t mean consumers will see it – especially when influencers hide it in a series of 20 or more hashtags.
Why is this so bad?
For starters, going against the FTC’s rulings is a quick and easy way to be charged for failing to disclose ads with consumers.
More importantly, though, it lacks authenticity and creates distrust between your brand and your influencers’ audiences.
The good news: If you engage in earned influencer marketing, you don’t have to worry about any of this! Earned influence takes longer to build, but it’s worth the effort for the relationships you create with your audience.
If you want to learn more about the differences between paid and earned influence, check out our latest eBook below!