Social Media

Instagram, Influencers and Their Integrity

Hi, my name is Rebecca (Becca) Cliff, I’m 20 years old and I’m the latest intern at The Dairy!

I’m in my second year at Nottingham Trent University studying BA Fashion Marketing and Branding and I can’t believe I am already coming to the end of my first of nine weeks at the agency. I have had a love for fashion for as long as I can remember and was inspired to explore the route of marketing and branding about 5 years ago after completing a week of work experience in the marketing department of an internationally-recognised shopping centre, back in my home city of Bristol.

Having grown up in the ‘Age of Social Media’, I have inevitably developed a real enthusiasm and passion for all things Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat! I find it fascinating that the ‘online reality’ in 2018 means that you can potentially earn a living simply by posting pictures from your phone and promoting products. Admittedly, like many others from my generation, I have jumped on this bandwagon with my own blog on Instagram and my own website. I hope to one day make a living from this – but at the moment, it’s just something I love doing.

Whilst the Instagram lifestyle looks totally perfect – filled with aspirational images which infiltrate my newsfeed, endless selfies and pictures of cute animals – I fully understand that behind the scenes there is a lot more that goes on which these ‘Influencers’ don’t want their audience to see. Here raises the massive issue of influencer integrity and whether we really should be so obsessed with these modern-day celebrities and their perfect lives and recommendations.

Word of Mouth (WoM) marketing has been one of the most powerful advertising tools since the industry began and more recently, facilitated by the rise of social media; but has this meant that WoM has lost some of its transparency and honesty?

Now don’t get me wrong – there are many influencers who post about products because they genuinely love them or have bought them of their own accord. But, there are influencers that share undisclosed paid collaborations and sponsorships – and these are the posts that have slipped under the radar for too long.

With money as an incentive, it raises the question of how legitimate these ‘miracle performance’ claims and ‘love’ posts really are. In April 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to some of the top celebrity influencers who had violated their latest Endorsement Guides, by not explicitly stating their paid or sponsored collaboration with the brand they were promoting.

As a consequence, Instagram updated their own regulations about advertising on the platform by introducing their “Paid Partnership With”  tool – allowing Instagrammers to clearly identify the brand they are in collaboration with and the fact that they have received a payment or incentive to share the post. In addition to this, they are required to include a hashtag in their caption which states #ad, #spon, #paid ad or #sponsored.

So, I hope that my brief overview of Instagram, influencers and their integrity has given you a little insight into the world I am so consumed by and perhaps, even made you question just how much you can really believe to be true the next time you are scrolling through your Instagram feed.

I am really excited to see where the next eight weeks at The Dairy takes me and hopefully I am able to share some more blog posts like this in the future!