The Ethical Influencer: Transparency and Information in Today’s Social World

Influencers are the future of social media marketing. According to a Business Insider article, influencer marketing is set to become a $2 billion industry by 2019. This represents massive growth for influencers. With this, comes more power and sway over respective industry trends and purchases.

Having this influence (no pun intended) means more responsibility and expectations that they need to up the ethics game. As an influencer, you need to be transparent and informed. As a consumer, you need to be responsible about who you follow and make sure you hold influencers accountable.

Be clear and transparent

Last year, Instagram announced a new expectation that all promotional posts be easily labeled as an #ad or #promotional. This step was taken after months of pressure from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to somehow enforce influencers to label their posts that are paid promotional opportunities.

Why was the FTC concerned with this? The answer is relatively simple. Consumers deserve to know when a person or brand that they trust is being rewarded for promoting products. This allows you, the consumer to make more informed decisions about what products you choose to purchase or somehow partake in.

Other social platforms do not have the same expectations. Influencers can easily post videos on YouTube without clearly stating the content is promotional. This is an issue because many consumers depend on the supposedly honest feedback of influencers to make purchases. I for one, always look to beauty influencers before deciding what makeup to purchase. So it’s important that the review or recommendation is honest and based on a real opinion – and not sponsored.

Be aware of the issues

There are a lot of issues in the world today, and if you work in the social media world, you need to be informed.

Recently, the global makeup brand, Tarte Cosmetics, released the much-anticipated Shape Tape Foundation. This product was promoted as being the sister product to the cult classic Shape Tape Concealer.

The controversy arose when Tarte released promotional materials and it became obvious that the launch included a limiting 15 shades. This was irresponsible of Tarte Cosmetics, but it was also a bad move considering the current industry trends.

Last summer, Rhianna launched her beauty line, Fenty, which includes a matte foundation that is available in over 40 shades. This shook the beauty community. All of a sudden, people started to question why big named brands had such limiting ranges considering a newly launched brand could make so many shades available.

So, when Tarte released the new foundation, many people were mad about the limited shade range. If Tarte had been listening to their audiences, the brand would know that this launch was never going to be ok and that expectations were higher.

Influencers and consumers spoke out how unhappy and unimpressed they were about the shade range and forced Tarte to apologize and promise to do better. It also brought the industry-wide controversy to light and started conversations.

If done right, influencers can be good for products and consumers. But for this to happen, influencers need to be transparent and informed.

This Article Has 2 Comments
  1. Hayden Skoch says:

    I think that the topic of Influencer transparency is extremely relevant and important. As a consumer, the lines have become blurred on which promotions are sponsored vs. voluntary. I think that it’s interesting that YouTube does not regulate marking sponsored content as ads. Especially, since so many consumers watch tutorials on YouTube.

    Another influencer topic I’m interested in learning more about is the rights that influencers have. As influencers have more power and become increasingly essential to the success of brands, I wonder how their rights will evolve. As far as contracts, benefits, and privacy.

  2. Hayden Skoch says:

    I think that the topic of Influencer transparency is extremely relevant and important. As a consumer, the lines have become blurred on which promotions are sponsored vs. voluntary. I think that it’s interesting that YouTube does not regulate marking sponsored content as ads. Especially, since so many consumers watch tutorials on YouTube.

    Another influencer topic I’m interested in learning more about is the rights that influencers have. As influencers have more power and become increasingly essential to the success of brands, I wonder how their rights will evolve. As far as contracts, benefits, and privacy.

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