Ethical Influencing

Influencer Marketing – something we are all aware of and witness through social media – is increasingly gaining traction, and so are the ethical concerns surrounding its use. Since it is a relatively new form of marketing, there are a lot of grey areas surrounding what is and isn’t allowed. It’s not all bad news though as legislation is starting to catch up to ensure that influencers are communicating honestly with their audiences

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Transparency is one of the key ethical concerns in influencer marketing. Generally, influencers are paid a certain amount of money to promote a brand or product sometimes without disclosing that they are being paid for their opinions. In order to combat this, the Australian Association of National Advertisers updated the Advertiser Code of Ethics in March 2017 to include a statement that ensures all advertising is clearly distinguishable to the relevant audience, even influencer marketing.

While this does alleviate some of the ethical concerns, it does also present additional challenges. For example, Zoe Foster-Blake faced major criticism after posting a pic of her fridge stocked with food from YouFoodz without saying it was a sponsored post. In actual fact, the company gifted the food to her for free and she wasn’t even asked to post about it, nor was she paid for the post. The Code of Ethics states that the company has no control over whether a promotion happens following the receipt of a free product or gift meaning even if it is posted about by an influencer, it is not considered to be advertising.

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While platforms are evolving to ensure transparency to their audiences such as Instagram’s introduction of the Paid Partnership feature, it is ultimately up to the brand and the influencer to ensure they are complying with regulations and are as transparent as possible with their consumers which will undoubtedly mean increased credibility for them in the long run.

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What are your thoughts on Influencer Marketing and can you think of any examples of unethical influencing?

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16 thoughts on “Ethical Influencing

  1. Hi Chauntelle. I think influencer marketing can be a very powerful tool but we often unconditionally trust and are easily persuaded by these individuals. We should be questioning the legitimacy of what is presented before us, especially if they are being paid large sums of money. Great post!

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  2. Great post! Yes I think influencer marketing is a strong tool for any business to increase its brand awareness however sometimes the influencer may mislead their audience and that can sometimes be unethical.

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    1. Thank you! Transparency is definitely something that influencers and brands need to be on top of as misleading consumers could essentially negatively impact their business.

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    1. Definitely! I do think that the introduction of the paid sponsorship feature is a step in the right direction in encouraging influencers to be more ethical. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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    1. Thank you! I agree – while the legislation is starting to catch up to ensure more transparency for consumers, there is still a bit of a grey area in terms of the credibility of influencers, which is something that customers should be aware of 🙂

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  3. I’ve seen a few unethical influencers unknowingly promote scams! Primarily YouTube influencers. I think if influencers don’t know and love the products they shouldn’t promote them- they have a large level of responsibility for their impressionable audience. Thanks for the great read 🙂

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    1. Personally, I’m quite wary of influencers, especially having read about so many instances when influencer marketing goes wrong. I think it’s definitely important for influencers to uphold that level of responsibility and to be accountable, upfront and transparent in their views. Thank you for the comment! 🙂

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  4. Great post! I think influencers being transparent about sponsored posts give consumers the power by allowing them to carefully evaluate the product without being under false pretences. Although it may not generate as high of a returns as a non-ad post, I believe the exposure and awareness of the product itself is sufficient to increase brand equity.

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    1. Thank you! Transparency is definitely something that is really important for influencers and I agree that while it may not generate as high of a return, I think influencers are more likely to gain a consumer’s respect if they clearly disclose the fact that a post is an ad. 🙂

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  5. Great post! I appreciate it when influencers make sure that their viewers know their post was a paid ad or when they announce that they are promoting a brand’s product/service in the beginning of their videos. I hate it when beauty influencers promote skincare products without trying it themselves prior posting about it.

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  6. Thanks for the comment! 🙂 I can definitely relate as I find it really annoying when influencers tout the benefits of a product – especially skincare – without disclosing the fact that it was a paid ad, which I think is pretty deceptive.

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