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