Digital Influencer Marketing Group to Develop Best Practices

The Influencer Marketing Council recently launched to create consistency and best practices for digital celebrities who work with brands. The Federal Trade Commission requires influencers who incorporate brand products in their videos or promote corporations on such social platforms as Instagram and Twitter to disclose that the posts are in fact advertisements. But celebrity Andrew Fitzpatrick (aka 80Fitz) reports the current lack of consistency over disclosure practices or hashtags that label the content.

Bloomberg notes that the hashtags used vary from the obvious #ad to the more opaque #partner. Fitzpatrick reports that some of the Fortune 500 companies he’s worked with “don’t require any disclosure at all,” clearly in conflict with the FTC’s directives. “The rules around it are just completely cloudy,” said Fitzpatrick. “If I can pick the shortest, easiest hashtag, that’s the one I’m gonna want.”

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The council, “comprised of brands, talent agencies and other influencer representatives,” opens at a time that influencer marketing has grown; council member Captiv8 reports that there are now more than 200,000 posts a month on Instagram. According to eMarketer, “about half of marketers plan to increase their influencer budgets this year.”

“We don’t want to be in the business of tricking consumers,” said Dr Pepper Snapple Group executive Blaise D’Sylva, whose company is a founding member of the council. Instagram is starting to give influencers “the option to use a standard label,” but that doesn’t cover all the gray areas, “like when social media stars get expensive gifts and trips for free.”

“Those are some of the things that we have to figure out and define,” said D’Sylva.

Captiv8 co-founder Krishna Subramanian says the council hopes it can “represent the influencer market in discussions with regulators, as well as with Facebook, Snap and Alphabet’s YouTube,” and it also plans to publish guidelines and examples, “so others in the industry can comment and help revise them.”

Subramanian also noted that an influencer’s popularity can rise so quickly that, if he or she encounters any trouble, “they’re unlikely to have sufficient legal representation or advice.”