What Brands Need to Know about FTC Regulations for Influencer and Celebrity Marketing Campaigns on Instagram

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Brands must educate themselves on how to use celebrity marketing in the most effective way that conforms to the rules set forth by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Even though the FTC has cracked down on celebrities and influencers for not explicitly labeling endorsed posts, there is still a huge lack of transparency regarding paid relationships.

In April 2017, The FTC issued a notice reiterating the rules for signposting paid ads on social media. They sent over 90 letters directly to celebrities, athletes and other influencers noting their improperly labeled posts. Even so, a study revealed that during May 2017, 32 of the top 50 celebrities posted some sort of sponsored content and 93% of those posts weren’t signposted correctly.

With changes underway, it’s essential for brands to know what the FTC requires, what social channels are doing to lessen the problem and what brands should do to avoid issues and successfully execute a social influencer campaign.

What the FTC Requires

The FTC Guidelines state any “material connection” between an influencer and an advertiser must be made clear. Meaning if there is any kind of relationship that could affect the way the consumers view the credibility of the post, it must be exposed.

The FTC also instructs hashtags must be easily interpretable. Unclear hashtags like #sp (meant to indicate sponsored post) don’t have a clear meaning to all consumers, causing the material connection to go unnoticed.

Hashtags must also be near the top of the post. On Instagram, text indicating the post is sponsored must be before the “more” button. The info needs to be visible without having to look further to find it.

What Social Channels are Doing

In an attempt to restore clarity and structure to sponsored posts, Instagram has launched a “paid partnership” feature. This allows for influencers to indicate the sponsorship above the post, under their name, in the space where a location is often put.

This will give influencers and advertisers a clear-cut way to disclose paid relationships, leaving ambiguity out of it. The #ad or #sponsored labels and their variations being used now leave more room for uncertainty in some cases.

While Instagram isn’t enforcing use of the feature at this time, it is a step towards stricter regulation and allows brands an easy way to avoid any questioning by the FTC.

What Brands Can Do

It’s best for brands to be diligent and stay up to date on the latest news and requirements from the FTC regarding influencer marketing and not just rely on its agencies. It’s necessary to be aware of the regulations to ensure a brand doesn’t end up damaging its image.

One reason why social media influencer campaigns are loved by brands is because of the genuine and natural way consumers are exposed to brands or products. Some brands fear clearly labeled posts could diminish that effect.

The key to getting around this issue is finding celebrity and influencer partners that make sense. If a partnership is logical, then it will seem authentic and genuine even if clearly labeled as a paid endorsement.

photo credit: Heidi Klum via Instagram

Matching an Influencer or Celebrity Marketing Campaign with the Right Social Channel

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Campaigns reach maximum effectiveness when placed on the social channel that best fits a brand’s goal.

Brands of all sizes and industries have stepped up their use of influencer marketing because of its ability to reach consumers in a genuine and valuable way. Research done by Linqia.com shows that 86% percent of marketers used the tactic in 2016.

Undoubtedly successful, influencer campaigns placed with the right social channel allow brands to optimize their spend. The decision of which social channel to use depends on the broad goal of the campaign according to the points below.

 Audience

Depending on which consumer the campaign targets, one social channel may be better than another. With the extent social networks are integrating into daily lives, people of a variety of characteristics and lifestyles are active on any given channel. However, some channels are still better than others for reaching a certain demographic. Some channels, like Instagram and Snapchat, are used more heavily among millennials while others, like Facebook, are more frequently used by an older audience.

Stride gum used DJ Khaled to promote their Mad Intense Gum. They had DJ Khaled take over the brand’s Snapchat account for two days as a part of the campaign. By using Snapchat, they were able to reach the audience they intended.

Reach

If the goal is impressions and getting the brand seen by as many people as possible, the campaign is best placed on a channel conducive to that purpose. This will depend on the chosen influencer’s following on each channel. In general, Facebook and Instagram currently allow for the largest reach considering that they have the highest amount of active users.

With 121 million followers, Selena Gomez is one of the most followed accounts on Instagram. The fashion company Coach brought her on as a spokesperson in December 2016. She has posted multiple pictures with their products on her account, allowing Coach to reach millions of consumers.

 Engagement

Engagement is a more powerful and intimate tool that focuses on getting consumers to take action. While reach can mean that they just saw an ad, engagement means they acknowledged it and interacted with it; usually by liking or commenting. When matching an influencer campaign with a social channel, choose the social channel where the influencer has the most dedicated and captivated following. Overall, Facebook and Instagram are good for engagement. Snapchat isn’t the best since the content isn’t likable or shareable.

Clinique for Men was able to generate a large level of engagement by partnering with influencers on Instagram. By using ten influencers across different demographics, the brand was able to achieve 3.8 times higher engagement than on their own account. Their products showed up on accounts including professional surfer and photographer Mikey DeTemple’s with 26,600 followers. A bigger influencer they partnered with was the lifestyle blogger and traveler Justin Livingston, with 246,000 followers.

photo credit: stux via Pixabay

 

Brands Incorporate Pets into Influencer Campaigns and Celebrity Marketing

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In today’s digital era, influencer marketing is more popular than ever, and brands are starting to take innovative approaches.

Social media famous pets are beginning to integrate with brands, and in a cluttered media landscape, it can elevate companies above the rest. People create individual personalities and perspectives for their pets on social channels. Certain animals have huge followings and big brands are starting to look toward these pets to endorse products.

There are two of types of celebrity pets—the pets of famous people and pets that become famous themselves without a celebrity owner. One example of the former is Katy Perry’s Teacup Poodle, Nugget, who just landed a major campaign deal with Citi’s Double Cash credit card. An example of the latter is Nala, a cat with 3.4 million Instagram followers who has partnered with Friskies. Regardless of the type of celebrity pet, here are three reasons they can be great for brands.

Appeal

Positive feelings like comfort, love, and nostalgia are all strongly associated with animals. Ads that play to peoples’ emotions are very effective, and pets are a great way to use emotion to capture and maintain audience attention.

Celebrity endorsements can be made stronger by including the celebrity’s pet. This is an easy way for celebrities to be more relatable, for both those familiar and unfamiliar with the celebrity.

Content

Celebrity pet brand ambassadors generate authentic and unique content.  Pets can add a lot of character to a message.  A key to celebrity pet marketing is ensuring that it makes sense and works within the context. The execution has to be deliberate and meaningful in order for the campaign to be effective.

Brands whose products aren’t directly related to animals can still gain a lot from using them in campaigns, but they need to be clever and creative to deliver their message. A brand that did this well was Mercedes in their partnership with the Instagram famous Loki the Wolfdog, who has over 1.5 million followers. The ad got everything right, cleverly using a celebrity pet, and doing it in a creative way that made sense for the brand.

Engagement

Pets rule social media and are in the top ten most shared types of content on the web. People like to comment, share and tag their friends in posts with animals. Brands reach bigger social audiences by finding the right pet with a large social following and a creative campaign that people will be drawn to.

Overall, people love pets, and they are a safe choice with no controversy.  Many brands have benefited by partnering with celebrity pets, and more brands should consider doing the same.

photo credit: Rollan Budi via Flickr

Celebrity Marketing: Content Creators Are Key, Not Specific Social Platforms

With dozens of social media apps to choose from, brands often centralize focus on which medium will maximize reach. While honing in on the right social platform is important, it is not the ‘be-all-end-all’ of social media success.

The key for social growth is having the ultimate content creator.

As the social media landscape evolves, so does the way that celebrities interact with their fans. The electronic band Gorillaz released a six-minute VR music video landing them an astounding 3 million views in 48 hours. While these innovative tactics to enhance fan experience are successful, it isn’t the medium that fans are drawn to.

It is what the artist does with this new technology that draws significant attention and increases their overall social value.

Many celebrities have a very specific personal brand, which presents the celebrity with an avid following that craves their thoughts. When a celebrity can build enough social credibility through their personal ideology and or niche interests, fans will follow wherever they post content.

For example, Ryan Seacrest is widely recognized for his on-screen charisma and overall positive energy, which directly translates to his social media accounts. Seacrest consistently posts inspirational notes across his social media handles, which garners significant fan interaction across the board. Being the media mogul that he is, Seacrest has 806,000+ Facebook followers, 3 million Instagram followers, and 16 million Twitter followers.

While his following on Twitter dwarfs the rest of his handles, fan interaction with his posts are fairly even across the board, due to his unique personal brand that he consistently promotes. Seacrest’s personality is extremely beneficial for media brands, which is largely why ABC signed him to co-host ‘Live with Kelly’. Thanks to Seacrest, the show is already experiencing significant rating bumps.

The same trend stands true for the social media influencer pool. When the video-sharing app Vine was discontinued, influencers were forced to translate their 6-second video fame to new platforms. Many famous Viners, such as Nicholas Megalis didn’t fully survive the transition, moving from 1.13 billion all-time Vine loops to a mere 35,000 YouTube following.

However, for Viner Ryan Bachelor (@KingBach), his own rendition of slapstick humor has enabled him to amass 16 million followers across all major social media platforms. Thanks to his unique take on comedy, his message to his following is effective regardless of platform. Bachelor can hop on his Snapchat story or tweet out a short video, and fans will still engage with the same enthusiasm as they had with Vine.

Brands such as Doritos and Brita have taken advantage of his massive following and have partnered with Bachelor to make their brands funny, relaxed, and relevant. Brands that partner with influencers give the talent an immense amount of creative control, which makes the branded message feel organic and not like a cold product placement.

For brands, now is not the time to spread thin across every available social platform. It’s time to focus on meaningful content produced by highly valued social content creators.

photo credit: www.wikimedia.org

Celebrity Marketing: Social Media stars from the Webby Awards 2017

The Webby Awards annually celebrates the best the internet has to offer, spanning hundreds of categories in six unique fields – Websites, Social, Film & Video, Mobile Sites & Apps, Podcasts & Digital Audio, and Advertising, Media, & PR.

Each category has two winners – one chosen by a body of industry experts and technology innovators, and the other by the voting public. These winners represent some of the best creators on the Internet today. The Webby Award stars are a great pool of talent to find premier social media influencers for a celebrity marketing campaign.

The social influencer landscape changes daily, which is why we’ve updated our 2016 list.

Here are some of the Webby stars you need to know in 2017:

  • Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight, identical twin fashion vloggers, won the People’s Voice for Best Celebrity/Fan for their YouTube channel BrooklynAndBailey, which owns over 3.8 million subscribers. A high percentage of their YouTube comments gush over their eyes and mascara, pushing the 16-year-old girls to possibly partner with a makeup brand or begin their own makeup line.
  • Claudia Oshry is the envy of anyone who does anything – literally. Oshry is a 2017 Webby nominee for the social media category “Weird” for her wildly popular Instagram handle @girlwithnojob. Oshry, who is unemployed, takes to her Instagram to post what she calls “relatable humor”, posting pop culture memes to engage her 2.6 million following. Captain Morgan has already taken a liking to Oshry’s high engagement, and was able to draw 4,000 people to a Las Vegas event simply because Oshry was their host.
  • Hank Green took home the honors of People’s Voice Science & Education (Channels and Networks) winner thanks to his daily YouTube series SciShow. The show’s mission is to make science applicable and interesting. The channel nearly has 4.2 million subscribers and is largely due to the fact that SciShow listens to its following. The videos posted on Tuesdays and Saturdays directly answer fan questions, giving avid viewers a reason to residually visit the channel.
  • Corinne Leigh, an eccentric YouTuber, is best known for her lifestyle DIY channel ThreadBanger. Corrine, alongside her husband Rob, are winners of the People’s Voice Film & Video Best Web Personality. Corinne and Rob are constantly posting content revolving around baking and science. Recently, the duo posted a video that revived the short lived Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, gaining 1.6 million views in under four days.
  • Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton are the winners of the Interview/Talk Show (Podcasts & Digital Audio) Webby for their booze infused podcast, Another Round. This Buzzfeed couple covers everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes. Nigatu and Clayton have the knack to get their guests to open up about hot button topics and then end their talks by getting their guests a round of drinks.

This year’s Webby bunch is a great place to find top tier creators and YouTube channels that are transforming the traditional celebrity endorsement landscape.

photo credit: www.vimeo.com

“Celebrity, Meet Influencer”: Now is the Time to Diversify Your Celebrity Endorsement Approach

There is an intangible quality to on-screen chemistry, plain and simple. For brands that aren’t niche, it is “go time” to find that dynamic celebrity-influencer duo.

It is certain that digital influencers are the future for brands striving to appeal to a younger demographic. However, for brands that are not exactly niche to today’s youthful consumer, it is important to recognize the available talent pool at both ends of the spectrum.

In the digital age, audiences are expanding for these broad-appeal brands, meaning the influencer-celebrity relationship may be the brand’s newest best friend.

Brita, dominating 70% of the filter pitcher market in the U.S, traditionally promotes a family centric theme. While the filter company may be tops in its own category, they have done an incredible job leveraging their appeal via celebrity endorsement. After signing basketball star Stephen Curry in 2015, their appeal expanded to the inner athlete in everyone.

Flash forward to 2017, and Brita has paired Steph Curry with digital comedy sensation, King Bach. The new creative produced by Brita posed a traditional dilemma: an empty pitcher in the fridge. With the power couple of Curry and Bach, the creative shifted focus onto the perfect roommate relationship, translating their comedic pairing into nearly one million YouTube views in less than a week. With Bach’s digital clout and Curry’s universal appeal, the audience for Brita stretched to incredible new heights.

Another industry finding success with celebrity-influencer teams is right in the talent’s wheelhouse; the film industry. The pairing of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and influencer Logan Paul for the promotion of the film Baywatch expanded the film’s brand immensely through reliance on user generated content (UGC).

In order to maintain the momentum of a successful campaign mantra, powerhouse brands lean their focus towards the viewer’s voice. UGC is any web content created by fans, functioning as free promotion for the brand. This online word-of-mouth is the best type of referral, as 86% of millennials say UGC is a good indicator of brand quality.

Johnson recently created his own production company Seven Bucks Studios, the mission being to create innovative and authentic content for its audience. As media consumers become increasingly skeptical of brand messaging, it is key that Johnson recognized authenticity as the arch of a successful message.

Fortunately for Paramount Pictures, Johnson and Logan Paul combined to drive unprecedented traffic to their brand by calling users to #BeBaywatch. Their three million plus views on YouTube caused the hashtag to instantly flood Twitter and Instagram, showing that users have power to spread a brand’s message like no other. Ultimately, the comedic, tension-filled relationship between the two made the film that much more relatable and appealing to multiple audiences.

It is certain that brands cannot appeal to everyone. However, when a brand can incorporate an array of talent that falls on both ends of the celebrity-influencer spectrum, the opportunity for brand growth is evident.

photo credit: www.premiermeetings.com

2017 Oscars Delivered Social Media Spontaneity for Celebrity Marketing

Despite last-minute excitement Super Bowl LI and the 2017 Oscars displayed, it’s evident traditionally pinnacle television events are not strongly impacting young audiences.

With a 4% viewership drop from 2016, the 2017 Oscars experienced its third consecutive viewership decline, marking 32.9 million viewers as the second lowest Nielsen viewership since 1974. The ABC broadcast continued the trend of low millennial appeal, bringing a 9.1 rating in comparison to 2016’s 10.5 rating in the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic.

Ratings may not tell the show’s entire story. This year’s show accrued a reported $115 million in ad revenue, likely to be the most lucrative entertainment event all year.

Largely, this is thanks to socially relevant personalized messages and strong celebrity influence in key Oscar associated brands.

Host Jimmy Kimmel did an incredible job of appealing to a younger demographic using social media. Echoing Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe political stance, Kimmel effectively live-tweeted President Trump, including “#MerylSaysHi”. This unexpected political and celebrity interaction stirred over 1.37 million responses via Twitter. This interaction was instant and memorable.

Kimmel also added an experiential event by inviting a group of unsuspecting Hollywood tourists to the ceremony, nearly crashing Twitter with tweets about a goofy tourist from Chicago named Gary. Unanticipated events, when paired with the right social influencers, brought millennials and Gen Zers to brands surrounding the show.

The political message spots such as the New York Times’ “The Truth is Hard” or Hyatt’s “For A World of Understanding” mirrored the active social voice of the show very effectively. According to a Brandwatch report, peak social media mentions came at the time when social issues were discussed during Viola Davis and Gael Garcia’s speeches.

However, being political doesn’t always define brand success, nor does it have to.

For high end brands who align with the affluent viewer base of the Oscars, it is important to have a strong celebrity influence within the brand’s message. Rolex, the official sponsor of the 2017 ceremony, implemented an impressive array of Hollywood icons into their one-minute spot “Celebrating Cinema”. The one-minute spot coincidentally featured the late Bill Paxton, triggering an immense amount of unanticipated brand awareness. This surprise appearance created a flood of positive social media responses, proving that timely nostalgia is a powerful theme with the Oscar viewer base.

The traditional means in which showcase events appeal to their expansive viewer base is evolving. No longer can traditional television be the bottom line goal. As seen in the Super Bowl’s first ever live ad spot and the Oscar’s live-tweeting frenzy, younger audiences appreciate an experience above all else.

That personalized experience is truly memorable when spontaneity and celebrity influence can effortlessly combine.

photo credit: www.flickr.com