Instagram has become an incredible marketing and advertising tool for countless brands and products. These brands will partner with an “influencer” who shares their target demographic in order to promote certain products. A popular clothing brand partnering with a fashion blogger, a furniture company giving a free dining table to a home decor influencer with millions of followers, promo codes for the latest “collaboration” with your favourite instagram celebrity.
These are all examples of how brands are taking advantage of the millions of people they can reach with a simple “collab”. It truly is a smart way of using the platform, and helps narrow down precise advertising. You don’t have to worry about your product being shown to the wrong audience if you partner with someone who shares your exact target audience.
While this can be incredibly beneficial to brands, there comes a lot of worries as the consumer. Mainly, these influencers who we love, who we respect, who we often identify with, are able to pick exactly what they want to promote to us. Whether it is a good thing or not. The Kardashians have been known to promote “flat tummy tea” as the key to their flat stomachs, all while they have professional trainers and nutritionists. Meaning millions of people see this harmful product, read the quick instagram caption and assume that if they spend $50 on this tea they will get the body of Kourtney Kardasian. Thats what the post is saying, isn’t it?
Therein lies the issue. Influencers are able to use their platforms to present anything they want. Since people see them as authentic and honest, their words hold weight. The products they promote hold weight! Except they are being paid for these opinions so they are not always honest. For a lot of them their brand was built through connecting with their followers and creating relationships. People follow accounts they can identify with, so when an influencer promotes something there is a level of trust assumed. It can be so easy to manipulate that trust in order to sell more or promote more. Authenticity can easily be compromised in order for larger paycheques.
This is not to say that every single advertisement we see on Instagram is filled with lies, there are so many influencers who only partner with brands they believe in. However, it does mean that users need to scroll through the app with a little more discernment.
Influencers need to recognize the power that they have, and need to decide what kind of partnerships they will be making and if they will stay true to their beliefs and opinions. Consumers need to recognize the power influencers have as well, and they need to work hard to decipher if a person is authentic or is just trying to sell something. To assume everyone with a large social media following is going to be honest 100% of the time is not wise. It is wise however to look at things with a little bit of doubt, and to trust your gut! If a post doesn’t feel genuine or on brand, then it most likely isn’t.
What do you think about Influencers ability to advertise? Do you think the authenticity of influencers can be compromised through advertisements?