The Instagram sponsorship market and its effect on consumers is one of the most complex aspects of influencer marketing. It is still very poorly understood by many and remains the biggest reason for many Instagram influencer news scandals.
The introduction of sponsored posts has allowed many influencers to earn revenue from their online presence and convert social media in to a career. This form of advertisement has been growing exponentially in the last couple of years, driving the creation new laws and regulations.
With the laws that are in place today, an influencer is required to clearly state whether a post is an advertisement or sponsored by a brand, in the aim to create a more transparent environment. However, many influencers still remain apprehensive about disclosing partnerships due to the audience’s perception of it.
It is hard to measure how followers react to sponsored posts as it is so dependent on the individual. However, we can narrow it down to a few factors which might have an impact.
An influencers credibility plays a vital role in their followers’ reaction to sponsored posts. The more credible an influencer is, the more positive the reaction will be to sponsored material. Credibility will differ depending on the type of influencer, with bloggers and micro-influencers usually having higher credibility that celebrities.
This has been attributed to the fact that bloggers are usually more relatable. They live a more normal lifestyle that we can resemble with our own than we can with a celebrity. If they are recommending a product, it feels more like it would if a friend was. This results in a greater sense of trust and credibility in both the influencer and the brand.
Purchase intention refers to people’s willingness to purchase the advertised product. This seems to produce the opposite effect compared to credibility, with celebrities generating a greater purchase intention than micro-celebrities (bloggers, influences, micro-influencers). This may be heavily influenced by the fact that many individuals may look up to celebrities as role models, and therefore will want to own the products that the celebrity endorses.
In this scenario, the audience is less likely to be affected by sponsorship as they have an intent to purchase either way. For example, when Fenty Beauty was released by Rihanna, many beauty influencers were sponsored to promote the product. Fans of the singer had the intent to purchase the product either way regardless of product sponsorship because of their admiration for the singer.
How not to it…
Some celebrities have naively taken advantage of the power over their fanbase when advertising a brand and this is what usually ends up as news headlines. The most recent backlash was against the Kardashians and their advertisement of meal replacement shakes.(Note: this is why hotels should work with niche travel influencers, rather than generic celebrities…!) Followers were quick to react, insisting to stop promoting products of this nature due to the damage it causes to young girls trying to replicate her image. Several other people were even more offended as the post was an advertisement and therefore knew that Khloe would be getting a large sum of money for sharing the post, labelling it as a ‘monetary exploitation’ of her fanbase. Regardless of the so-called bad publicity, people are engaged, talking about the influencer and the products they’re promoting, and as they say in advertising…any publicity is good publicity!
Kim has also been branded a ‘toxic influence’ for promoting appetite suppressing lollipops to her 133 million Instagram followers. The massive backlash stems from the fact that these celebrities have an immense influence and therefore should be more responsible with the products they advertise. The same goes for responsible influencer marketing in the hospitality industry. Swayy are strong advocates of transparent, honest and open influencer marketing. Note to influencers: Never ever risk losing the trust of your followers…
Brand attitude refers to how a brand is perceived and what people think of it. This heavily influences an individual’s reaction to sponsored posts as they will relate this directly to the influencer promoting it. The more positively the individual perceives the brand, the better the reaction will be to the sponsored post.
If a brand with a poor reputation was endorsed by your favourite influencer you would probably lose a bit of faith in them and reconsider their character. It therefore is not that much to do with the aspect of sponsorship, but the partnership between influencer and brand.
Many influencers will cater to a specific niche, may that be travel, food or beauty. They are therefore said to have expertise in that area. If they are sponsored by a brand which aligns with their expertise, their following is more likely to trust their suggestions and understand the sponsorship behind it.
However, if all of a sudden, an influencer was to partner with a brand which has nothing to do with their area of expertise, the audience would start to question their authenticity and suspect that the driving motivator behind the post was the monetary benefit. This causes your following to lose trust in you and may result in some negative opinions on your sponsorship decisions.
All in all, sponsorship is becoming more and more transparent every day, as laws and regulations are becoming always more enforced. As long as you are being true to yourself and making wise decisions when deciding on sponsorship deals, your following will continue to support you and your content.
To be up to date with all the latest regulations about advertising on your social media page, check out an update from the ASA!