Regular scrollers of Instagram will be familiar with favoured celebrities endorsing certain products; from moisturisers to ‘fitness’ teas, they will often insist whatever they’re touting is the best thing since (avocado on) sourdough bread.
What can often follow is a disclaimer in the caption – ‘Love this so much and NO, I’m not being paid to write about it!’ – to reinforce that they genuinely just love the product. Queue the onslaught of comments: ‘Blatantly being paid to say that! It didn’t work for me! *angry face*’
There’s a certain cynicism at play when people feel so naturally inclined to assume they’re being sold to. Some of us may skim read and move on, but in 2016 a study from Locowise found that 75% of the platform’s users would visit a website after seeing a product advertised within a post. Instagram is statistically a great place to spotlight your product, however you choose to do it.
However, the cynics may have been onto something as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently found that over 90% of A-list celebrity endorsements directly violated influencer marketing rules by not clearly stating when content is a paid-for endorsement.
Only last year, CMA issued a warning that it was willing to clamp down on brands and marketers posting content that mislead consumers, or was not created “honestly, openly and in compliance with consumer protection law”.
Speaking to The Drum, Instagram’s Head of Global Creative Programs Charles Porch said he wanted to bring “transparency across the board” to the platform and its some 700 million monthly active users. It has now introduced new tools and measures to allow influencers to clearly signpost followers to paid-for content.
The new ‘paid partnership’ tag will be rolled out to several global creators including influencers, publishers and businesses, and is designed to help them clearly communicate where they are posting in collaboration with brands or personalities.
Hidden hashtags won’t cut it anymore as posts are to be clearly marked with #ad, which is not to be cut off in the caption, i.e. within the first three lines, after which the caption truncates. Nor will posts be allowed to say #sp or #partner instead of #sponsored, and simply tagging the brand won’t be enough either. The new ‘paid partnership’ tag will sit clearly above the image, and within the Stories section too.
It’ll be interesting to see how these new measures affect future brand collaborations, and whether they impact content strategies altogether when it comes to using influencers.