Public Relations

So you want to be an influencer?

We see the ads (and yes, they are ads) everywhere.  The Kardashian loving that weirdo weight-loss tea? Everyone from the Bachelor pushing those mirrored sunglasses? Welcome to Influencer Promotion 101.

Celebrities get paid big bucks to tell us what products they “absolutely love,” on social media. But what does it really mean to be an influencer? And could you be one? 

In basic terms, influencers are simply users with large followings on a specific social media channel. They don’t have to be celebrities, you just need to have a large, engaged audience. And be willing to promote someone else’s products.

Brands reach out to these individuals to get the ‘good word’ out on their products. And by ‘good word’ I mean the contractually agreed upon messaging. According to the FTC, influencers are required to disclose if they have a relationship with a specific brand. Typically, this means Are you getting paid? But as influencer lines blur even more, it can also mean Do you work for this company? 

Yep, if you work for Healthy Hut and get a discount on your purchase of their new, healthy smoothie that gives you energy and a six-pack abs. Before you post your endorsement of this delicious elixir, you should consider the following:

Are theses claims true? Will the drink really give you a six-pack? Because you are now saying they will. So verify that shiz.

Do you have a relationship with Healthy Hut? This can mean a lot of things, like:

  • Are you an employee?
  • Are you a paid spokesperson?
  • Are you trying out this product because the company gave you a promotional offer (i.e. free smoothie).

If ‘yes’ to any of the above, you need to disclose. Which leads us nicely to our final question:

How do I disclose my relationship? Okay, well this is where it gets a little fuzzy. Because the FTC is vague about how you have to disclose this info – social media had kind of created its own rules. Hashtags like #spon or #ad let people know that this is a paid endorsement. But maybe you were considering posting a video, well you need to make sure that both your video and caption include this disclosure.

So if you want to become an influencer, the good news is you can. Start cultivating a large audience – the more specific, the better. Target these people with your social media posts and hashtags. Follow users with similar audiences. Publish content on topics your audience cares about. Interact with your followers. And then keep doing it. 

Building a following isn’t rocket science, but it does take persistence. Work on that and keep a pulse on the changing FTC policies around endorsements. Then, when the time is right, you’ll be prime to be the Influencer we all knew you were born to be.


Other Articles to Read: 

FTC to Crack Down on Paid Celebrity Posts that Aren’t Clear Ads [Bloomberg]

I Tried All the Weird Stuff the Kardashians Post On Instagram [HuffPo]



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