As mobile phone usage has grown, so has its capabilities. Cell phones are an all-in-one gadget through which people can access a number of things rather easily, including in the internet–who would’ve thought so 20 years ago? What’s more is that of the 3 billion plus people online, nearly 73% of them are engaging with or active on some form of social media, including: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and others.
The growth of these platforms has resulted in a shift from traditional advertising to a more digital strategy. Sites like Facebook in particular have been successful in creating a huge return on investment for advertisers in its initial stage, but as millennials (undoubtedly the largest demographic online) in particular have found ways to avoid or block out advertising, additional strategies are necessary to leverage the reach provided through use.
Subsequently, quite a few businesses, especially those established online, have used the power of endorsements to attract new customers. Popular celebrities with millions of followers have sway and people who are attentive to their thoughts on various on subjects, including what they use and/or, thus making it a smart move in terms of conversion and genuine interest in certain products.
With social media, interactions are natural and ironically human. Profiles of even the biggest stars can be personable, removing the barriers related to TV or Magazines and resulting in lowered guards and greater attentiveness. So while smart, it can be misleading to consumers who are unaware of the difference between a paid endorsement and sharing.
The FTC, understanding the persuasiveness of endorsements, has specific guidelines for paid advertising by endorsement. The department updated its guidelines in 2009 with regard to blogs and word of mouth, but not social media specifically. That has changed in the last couple of years, and the FTC in its effort to protect consumers has cracked down on advertising through social media, conceptualizing new ways for endorsers to make it clear that the picture of their favorite weight loss product or new lipstick is actually a paid advertisement.
This is not specific to celebrities, to be clear. Studies actually show that social media stars–those who’ve become popular through means of relatable, viral content on social media platforms–are more likely create new customers. Hence, you’re likely to see personalities from YouTube to Instagram promoting a product or brand other than themselves in an effort to monetize their online presence.
Brands spend a whopping $255 million dollars a month on influencer advertising, on Instagram alone. The FTC is making sure advertisers are familiar with their new regulations and pursuing legal action where necessary for noncompliance. If you’re involved a company or perhaps and influencer, make sure you’re aware of what is required by the law and follow the rules laid out by the federal government for advertising.