Influence marketing has been on the rise in response to ad blocker and diminished reach on FaceBook, but the FTC has taken notice. The FTC has fined brands such as Lord & Taylor with deceptive advertising, but not the influencers themselves. This has made for an interesting environment around the space.
To Disclose or Not To Disclose…
There’s a tug-of-war on the topic of disclosure. Some brands actively ask influencers not to disclose the content is sponsored for fear of appearing inauthentic. The FTC has yet to refine its policies to be consistent across the board concerning individual influencers, though brands have certainly been put on notice.
In an article on MarketingWeek.com, Charlotte Rogers writes on how Adidas is redefining influencer marketing through dark social. Adidas has created squads of teenagers who are avid football (soccer) fans to talk about their products. The 16-19 demographic is increasingly more difficult to reach. They’re a moving target if ever there was one, as they’re not really on Facebook anymore, SnapChat more so, but mainly in private messaging groups like FaceBook Messenger or What’s App.
This bold move can’t be tracked as deftly as other forms of marketing such as PPC, but Adidas is going with it. Adidas is confident that as time goes on the tools will catch up. Though it is still unclear how regulatory bodies such as the FTC will look upon such “dark social” campaigns. Given the fact we’re talking about teenagers here, I doubt FTC compliance is top of mind for them, as evidenced by a recent eMarketer poll.
Making The Most Of It
However, at the heart of this campaign is the fact that people who first became influencers didn’t mean to. They found a topic and a community that really resonated with them. Simply blogging isn’t enough anymore, you have to have an area of expertise or passion that you can speak authoritatively on.
Celebrities & advocates impact the customer at a different part of the funnel. Advocates get those hard, behind closed doors questions you would ask of a peer. Celebrities tend to hit them at the awareness stage of the funnel. At the stage right before conversion when you’re looking at reviews to either confirm or deny, you’re looking for an advocate, not a celebrity. A celebrity might even be suspect at that point. Folks care about authenticity at the moment they’re about to part with their hard earned dollars.
My crystal ball works about as well as yours, which is to say not very well at all. But one thing I can say with certainty is that both brands and influencers alike would do well to keep a keen eye on the FTC.