As influencer marketing has increased its presence on social media platforms, it has served brands and companies as a great way to promote their products. However, there are some influencers that do not abide by guidelines and rules, and post inauthentic content solely for profit. Whether or not influencer marketing is ethical has been debated since the beginning, but if done correctly, the technique can be both ethical and effective. As a public relations agency, we live by the following guidelines to ensure that each of our brands are authentic and ethical in influencer marketing.
Follow FTC Guidelines
When searching for the right influencers for your brand, make sure you fully understand the FTC guidelines and other advertising laws. One of the most important takeaways from these guidelines is disclosure of sponsored content. There is a misconception that ‘sponsored content’ is limited to paid influencers; however, any time an influencer gets anything of value from a brand, be it free products, free entry to an event, or even free samples, the content is sponsored and must be marked as such. Ensure that your influencers are disclosing their content with FTC approved measures. This includes #ad, #sponsored, or simply a sentence explaining the nature of the influencer-brand relationship.
Partner With Authentic Influencers
Make sure you are vetting your influencers and ensuring that they are authentic in what they are posting. The best way to do this is to look at other sponsored posts they have and seeing if they post about their honest opinion on the brand. Honest opinions and posts won’t be overly promotional and will not be completely biased on the product they are advertising. When looking at their posts, make sure they are putting disclaimers on their sponsored posts and following sponsored post guidelines. By choosing authentic influencers, you are not only practicing good ethics, but helping the effectiveness of the campaign. Viewers will be more inclined to trust the post from an authentic influencer, rather than one that does spam promotions.
Be Clear in Your Request for a Real Review
Paid promotions are a great way to increase your brand’s awareness and reach with other audiences. However, this content is inauthentic, unethical, and against the law if the review is not sincere. The FTC requires that all sponsored content still reflect the views of the influencer. Be sure to tell your influencers that you would like their honest, sincere opinions on the brand.
If you want to learn more about ethical conduct in public relations, click here.