“If there’s something influencers hate more than that name, it may be disclosing what content brands have paid them to create and promote.” That was one of WWD’s takeaways from an influencer-specific panel held by Bloglovin this week. Yes, this seems to be something of a common theme running through at least some of the fashion influencer community.
Bloglovin, a New York-based blog connecting platform, brought together the individual influencers behind The 12ish Style, Scout Sixteen and Hummingbird High, for a discussion on marketing this week. This included a discussion of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)’s disclosure guidelines, which require – among other things – that posts that result from a material connection between a brand and an influencer must contain “clear and conspicuous” language alerting viewers to this connection.
Such disclosures are primarily for the purpose of preventing deception in advertising, which the FTC, as the government entity in charge of promoting consumer protection, and eliminating and preventing anticompetitive practices, is tasked with overseeing.
While convincing influencers and brands to utilize valid disclosures has been a long process and one that is still very much underway as indicated by the most recent batch of letters the FTC sent to celebrities, fashion brands, and influencers, alike, a handful of the industry’s biggest influencers are coming around. Shout out to you, Chiara Ferragni!
Nonetheless, the line of reasoning in play at the Bloglovin’ event suggests that despite increased efforts by the FTC as of late, influencers are not amused. According to Katie Sturino, the founder of blog The 12ish Style and the host of Project Runway’s spin-off web series Behind the Seams: “I hate telling people things are sponsored, especially when I really love the brand. Immediately it just feels like, ‘Ugh, she’s just getting a paycheck.’ Everyone tries to work with brands that they feel good about.”
Bloggers, it seems, feel backed into a cornered by federal law in the U.S. Yes, these individuals, who are willing accepting compensation from brands to endorse brands by posting photos on their Instagram, feel icky, for lack of a better word, when the idea of them being transparent comes into play.
Interestingly, this is not the opinion of all influencers. As BryanBoy, one of the influencers that has been vocal about his practice of disclosing everything from sponsored posts to gifts from brands (the latter of which is something the vast majority of influencers opt not to disclose despite the FTC's rules requiring disclosure of gifts), "My readers respect me more by when disclosing I’m getting a check."
His response to bloggers that do not like disclosing sponsored posts or free gifts from brands? "If you don’t want to feel icky then don’t get paid, plain and simple."
Want to learn about who to properly disclosure everything from sponsored posts to gifts, here is what the FTC had to say in a recent Q&A session specifically devoted to influencer marketing. And be sure to catch our simple 6 Things Brands and Influencers Need to Know About Sponsored Posts guide.