Influencers and “Authentic” advertisment.

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? 

18 thoughts on “Influencers and “Authentic” advertisment.

  1. Hey Fontana!! I love your very thought provoking post!! I think since the advent of Twitter every celebrity has become their own direct advertising channel to the masses. I think for the most part they have to be selective about what they promote otherwise they run the risk of appearing disingenuous, as you highlighted. The positive side to all this is that the influencers have to shop somewhere as well, and they too encounter the same struggle with finding authenticity. Sometimes celebrities will post the item they purchased, without receiving advertising dollars. It is a fascinating area of advertising. In a sense it appears that there has been no better time in history than to receive free endorsements from celebrities or other people of influence.

    • It really is such an interesting advertisement technique. One that has reached a crazy level of popularity. It just shows how much of our world is controlled by the technology available!

  2. This is a really great read and very well written! I definitely agree that we have to “proceed with caution” when following influencers and the products they recommend. I find the more you follow an influencer, the more you can read into their authenticity.

  3. Wonderful post! I completely agree that influencers really need to think about the clout that they carry. Unfortunately, I’m a little pessimistic when it comes to the idea that influencers will take a more conscientious and responsible attitude towards what they market any time soon. I think, for now, it will remain on the shoulders of the consumer to research and fact check before making a purchase.

    • I think the line is so split in half. There are people who so obviously only care about the money who will never be genuine, and there are those who will only promote what they truly love. It is very much a consumer’s responsibility to filter their influence!

  4. I love your post! This is so true! Some people that I follow on Instagram are often sharing information about different products in their Instagram stories. Usually, when I see that they are always trying to sell something, I unfollow them. What I like is when they are honest. Some of them have ‘rules’ where they will add an hashtag to their stories to let us know that this was a paid partnership or gifted product and when it’s simply something that they bought and liked they will let us know as well. I feel like this way there is less of secret between the influencer and the consumer. I’m not sure if they are always 100% honest, so you are right, we always have to be careful as a consumer. I also feel that influencers should be careful when advertising a certain product, not only for their followers, but for their own reputation. It can really have an impact on the trust they have built over the years. For example, if someone always says that they are making efforts to be environmentally-friendly and then they share a product that goes against that, it might have a negative impact on their number of followers.

  5. Fontana I love this post! Finally someone talking about the “diarrhea tea” that was being sold to tons of people several years ago all over Instagram and Snapchat! I think that there is certainly a place for influences (I would love to be one), but those people do need to be as you are saying more authentic, support products that are in line with who they are as people as well as understanding more about their target audience…you know people without personal trainers and private at home mansion gyms! Great Post!

    • Thank you! It is so upsetting, especially when there are so many vulnerable people in their fanbase who see that and think it can help. There is such a responsibility for people of influence to really think about what they are promoting!

  6. Hey Fontana, You picked such a great topic to blog about since this will be a forever ongoing debate. I wish more influencers were authentic in there post’s, especially with the younger generation looking up to them as they do. I love how you used a Kardashian and a product that they back but yet rarely every include the whole story of how they are able to look this way. They are also highly criticized about altering their images to have an even more unrealistic body, yet promoting that its all natural. Unfortunately those influencers who are high profiled will continue to not be truly authentic because in this age it doesn’t sell as well and you don’t get the target amount of followers you are aiming for.

    Excited to see what you post next!

    Nikita J

  7. I think that this is not the only problem with promoting products. I find a lot of the time other people who are just trying to get into the “influencer” world get caught up in it. They are offered a pay out for promoting product and risk losing followers. I find to often it does catch them off brand from either selling a product that does not really match their usual selves or they end up being very annoying trying to sell it. I find myself unfollowing people I thought to be great political activists, to have great style, or anything and the main thing that makes me unfollow them is when their insta story becomes more like mini infomercials. So I do agree with you by influencers promoting faulty/bad products and off brand products but, I also think that some influencers do not have the skill to advertise and this leads to their viral demise.

    • Oh for sure. I know a lot of people who are pursuing the influencer career path in order to receive brand deals. There are so many screenshots from companies of people begging for free things in exchange for promotion. It’s such an interesting phenomenon that will only grow as more and more people want that lifestyle.

  8. Hi Fontana!
    Great post! Consumer awareness can become hazy when dealing with social media, especially when influencers are involved. It’s often hard to decipher the true aim of a celebrity endorsing a product, even if it is someone who’s opinion you would otherwise trust. I’d like to think that most people choosing to support a product on line are being authentic, but money talks.

  9. Its pretty crazy to me that these celebrities who are already making millions of dollars and living the most lavish lives still feel okay lying about the quality of products or the health benefits of them. At that point, theres no reason to compromise your integrity for the pay check. They aren’t living paycheque to paycheque. Additionally, even if these celebrities do not know of the possible negative side effects, I feel like it’s important to do the research and be aware of what you’re sharing! So craqzy to me…

  10. I think the rise in influencers has been on of the greatest successes of social media. It allows brands to reach so many more potential consumers. I would be curios to know how much money the Kardashians make for promoting products such as Flat Tummy Tea.
    There are any brands, specifically clothing brands, that rely almost entirely on social media influencers as promotion for their products. What are your thoughts on these brands?
    Additionally, do you have any tips for people trying to avoid misleading ads from influencers?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.