Teri’s Take: Instagram Limits Weight Loss Posts, Fashion Week & Undisclosed Sponsorships
Instagram recently announced a new policy to tighten rules around promotional posts related to weight-loss and cosmetic surgery. The change comes as Instagram ramps up efforts to reduce users’ feeling of inadequacy and the practice of unhealthy weight-loss habits. In some cases, offending posts will be blocked from appearing on minors’ accounts. Other posts for weight-loss products that are linked to commercial offers and discount codes will be banned or removed entirely. These changes also apply on Facebook.
While some may be worried about Instagram’s new policy, our opinion is that this new change is a step in the right direction. 72% of 13-17 year olds use Instagram and studies show that there is a link between social media usage and body dissatisfaction, especially in adolescents.
Although the content that weight loss or cosmetic procedure companies might not be harmful or negative in and of itself, it suggests an ideal — but not always attainable — standard of beauty. Unrealistic beauty standards set by brands, celebrities, and influencers can lead to eating disorders, depression, or other mental illness. This new feature is Facebook’s attempt to cut down on the potentially harmful content that children consume on a daily basis.
With Instagram’s new policy, brands promoting weight loss supplements or cosmetic procedures can expect to see a decline in impressions. However, these brands can feel a little more at ease knowing that they are only communicating with consumers of-age, who are less likely to feel the adverse effects of their advertisements.
Ahead of New York Fashion Week, luxury resale boutique What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA) is shifting much of its marketing budget to focus on influencer partnerships. For the past 3 NYFW events, WGACA has styled a handful of influencers and VIP clients attending the events and shows. This season, WGACA is focusing more on building lasting relationships with those influencers, providing them with services that will actually be useful throughout a busy NYFW. One executive backed the brand’s strategy, explaining, “NYFW can seem like a fleeting week; everything is so ephemeral… With social media, one of the bigger challenges with influencers is that those one-off posts go away and get replaced with something new a few days later. Making investments that go beyond NYFW and building upon relationships with influencers beyond that one-off event is key.”
Between Louis Vuittion’s collaboration with Emma Chamberlain and Coach’s campaign with Rickey Thompson, more luxury brands are taking note from ecommerce brands like Fashion Nova by partnering with well-known influencers to boost awareness and build community. New York Fashion Week was no exception. WGACA’s event is an excellent example of a luxury brand leveraging influencers to add authenticity to what can sometimes feel like an exclusive industry. Compared to runway models — who used to hold the spot as luxury brand ambassadors — influencers are more relatable to the everyday consumer.
Inviting influencers to in-person events comes with two major perks. One, you get more exposure for your event as influencers can help with promotion and content creation. And two, you go beyond one-off social media posts that can often seem transactional. By submerging influencers into your brand both on and offline, you create long-term relationships that result in brand champions and build a true community.
Although the Federal Trade Commission has established “endorsement guides” to disclose brand partnerships, many companies are pushing back. Because influencer marketing relies on the neutrality of influencers, brands fear that the credibility associated with word-of-mouth marketing will be compromised by disclosure. However, new data shows that the likelihood of viewing a brand positively following an influencer’s recommendation was the same whether or not a partnership had been disclosed. The study also found that influencers’ recommendations have become steadily more important in consumer purchase decisions from 2015 to 2018, and the growth in disclosures has made no difference to that rise. In fact, labeling #ads have become a positive signal, as consumers value transparency and authenticity from influencers.
When it comes to FTC guidelines, the bottom line is to follow them.
We understand the belief that disclosing sponsorships might take away some of the authenticity that comes with influencer marketing. However, this is not the case. Statistics show that influencers won’t see a major decline in engagement when they disclose a partnership.
By now, consumers know that influencers are paid to talk about products — it’s their job! But they also know that the vast majority of influencers are reliable and only promote products that they trust and love. FTC guidelines are in place to ensure that the brand, influencer, and audience are all aligned. The worst thing an influencer can do is not disclose a sponsorship and then get called out for it. Transparency builds trust. When an influencer hides the fact that they gave a glowing review because they were paid to do so, they compromise the trust they’ve built with their audience.
Avoid all of this by working with influencers who have had a chance to try your product and genuinely love it. Then, encourage them to be honest about their relationship with your brand.