It's certainly no secret that Instagram is among the most important areas for advertising and marketing in the fashion and beauty spaces, and while those close to the industry's inner workings can easily identify which posts are sponsored and which aren't, average consumers might not be able to draw that conclusion so simply. Influencers around the world have found themselves in hot water for improperly disclosing #SponCon — the Federal Trade Commission has mandated that the indicators "#Ad" or "Sponsored" should accompany all paid content — but that hasn't stopped the likes of the Kardashians and A-list bloggers from getting a little, uh, creative with their hashtags. Here are some recent examples of obviously paid posts that are not disclosed as such:
Whether said influencer simply tags the brands that gifted them clothing, accessories, accommodations or travel, or includes a weird, inorganic string of hashtags that imply this was a business transaction, the avoidance of coming right out and saying "#Ad" — or burying it inside a string of random ones — is at an all-time high. So, the FTC is once again stepping in, making sure that any "material connection" an Instagrammer has with a brand that could potentially affect the post's credibility is crystal clear.
In a blog posted to the FTC's website on Wednesday — complete with the delightfully salty title, "Influencers, are your #materialconnection #disclosures #clearandconspicuous?" — the agency outlines rules with the hope to "influence influencers to comply with [the] established principles in their Instagram posts," particularly in regards to making it obvious when they're paid for by a brand. The post reads: "Avoid #HardtoRead #BuriedDisclosures #inStringofHashtags #SkippedByReaders. When posts end with a jumble of hashtags, how likely is it that people really read them? That's why a 'disclosure' placed in a string of other hashtags isn't likely to be effective." In addition, indefinite terms like "thank you TK brand," "#partner," and "#sp" are frowned upon, as they don't distinctly define the poster's relationship with an advertiser.
To drive this point home, the FTC sent out more than 90 letters to influencers on Wednesday containing the above information — meaning that a crackdown is likely nigh. We absolutely can't knock the hustle, but dearest bloggers and celebrities, believe us when we say that your #confusinghashtags are #notfoolinganyone. By all means, make that money, but just remember to use "#Ad" while you're doing it.