Influencer Marketing: How Should Brands Tackle Malpractices

Influencers are trusted people with a substantial number of people following them. Therefore, brands partner with them so that their products get marketed through personalities who are recognized by and looked up to by many.

Lately, companies have been increasingly going after influencer marketing and it’s expected that this trend will continue in the future. It’s quite amazing to look at some statistics that depict the growth in influencer marketing.

influencer marketing
The number of influencer posts sponsored by brands has been on a rise (Source: influencermarketinghub.com)

The malpractices of influencer marketing

People often buy followers to get themselves into the list of influencers. An influencer is somebody who people trust, talk about, and hence follow. Buying followers can only increase some numbers, but never endow anyone with influence.

Apart from this, the ones who don’t buy followers on social media, are not always promoting brands and products in an ethical way. The Federal Trade Commission lays down guidelines for online marketers, which are applicable to influencers working for brands as well.

Disclosure is extremely important. Influencers posting on their social network content for which they are paid, and not mentioning it as paid promotion, are acting inappropriately.

Is there a reason for such unethical practices, apart from complacency or greed?

What about lack of legal knowledge as a reason for lack of disclosure

As mentioned by Andy Sernovitz, the CEO of SocialMedia.org, in one of his speeches, brands often delegate their social media operations to employees and agencies who do not possess a thorough understanding of the legal issues pertaining to online marketing.

Companies hiring influencers to promote their product, and not assuring that they adhere to the rules, are responsible for any breach that occurs on the part of influencers.

What should brands do to stop such malpractices?

There are three main guidelines, as summarized by socialmedia.org, that all companies should follow while working with influencers to avoid any legal issue:

  1. Require disclosure and truthfulness in social media outreach.

This means that companies make it a point to ensure that the influencers they have partnered with, disclose if they are given any incentives to market their products. It must be an honest and clear disclosure that anyone viewing the post could understand.

  1. Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.

In case an influencer or a third party misrepresents what a company wanted to convey, then it’s the company’s responsibility to correct those misinterpretations and delineate what it actually meant. In other words, brands should monitor the performance of their online marketing partners.

  1. Create social media policies and training programs.

This encompasses the other two. A company is responsible for providing all the necessary details to and training influencers to execute marketing ethically.

Influencer marketing in B2B

Influencer marketing by authentic and genuine influencers is a great asset for B2B companies. B2B enterprises emphasize on their domain expertise, and hence, having an expert onboard who talks about you, and thereby influences his audience, is a definite plus.

An effective way to work with influencers in B2B is to have long-term partnerships with them. A company should care for its influencers and ensure that at the end, it’s a win-win for both. It doesn’t always have to be a monetary reward for an influencer. Simply giving him visibility through a blogpost or sharing his content can be a good barter.

Ahmad Zamir

Junior Digital Marketing Consultant at Visionary Marketing
Ahmad is a student of the Master in Management program at ESCP Europe Business School and is passionate about marketing. His interests lie in learning and writing about the latest trends in the marketing realm.