Instagram Advertisers Switch From Celebrities To ‘Microinfluencers’

Leticia Miranda

The push to make social media celebrities and “influencers” more honest about who is paying them to post has been complicated by the rise of a new category of Instagram promoter: the so-called microinfluencer, people with as little as ten followers who are being paid by brands just like top-tier stars.

Advertising businesses like Influenster and BzzAgent allow anyone with a social media account to sign up and receive free products for review, from brands like Maybelline, BITE beauty, Kleenex, and International Delight. Their social media posts appear with hashtags like #gotitfree or #gotacoupon, or with a note that the product was received “complimentary.” Often there is no indication they got it for free.

In a letter on Wednesday, consumer advocacy groups told the Federal Trade Commission these posts don’t meet federal disclosure guidelines, which recommend clearly using #advertisement or #ad in posts.

“One of our biggest concerns is that this is becoming normalized and so seamlessly integrated into our everyday interactions with social media,” Kristen Strader, the commercial alert campaign coordinator for advocacy group Public Citizen, told BuzzFeed News. “Of course this is what advertisers want, but it is unfair to the consumer, especially young consumers who are growing up seeing paid endorsements on social media without understanding that those posts are actually advertisements.”

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