Businesses and companies have found opportunities to leverage on the convenience of social media platforms to raise awareness through influencers. This is also known as Social media marketing. It basically takes advantage of social networking to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customers reach.
When was the last time you searched for reviews online? Do you know that some of the pictures you see on Instagram and Twitter are actually paid reviews of a certain product?
Unethical Advertising – Transparency
Ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy. (bbc.co.uk)
How open should an influencer be when accepting a paid job? Should they indicate an “Advertorial” or “Sponsored Post” which signifies that it is a paid advertisement? Definitely. However, some agencies or clients might want them to mask it, making a post seem more ‘authentic’. This practice is known as astroturfing.
Influencers have built their personal online brand for themselves and gained a certain credibility for their authenticity. This is also why more and more people are relying on reviews before heading to a shop or trying a product.
Should any other benefits given by a sponsor be declared as well? (Free products, travelling expenses, hotel stays) Generally speaking, any type of benefit should be declared in one’s post or video. The ethical way is for readers to be aware of any benefits that the influencer received so as to make their own assessment.
Well then is it ethical for a business to pay influencers for reviews?
it is only unethical when influencers (forced or not) do not state that they are being sponsored or that that particular article is a paid review.
Ethical advertising refrains from appealing to “base” human emotions such as fear, greed or lust. It remains positive and optimistic, and doesn’t exploit stereotypes based around race, gender, religion or age.
(Evidence of sponsored posts. Source: Instagram)
If exposed of unethical acts, not only the reputation of the influencer and agency, but also the client’s company will be tarnished. This brings me to one of Singapore’s social media saga where Singtel group chief executive Chua Sock Koong made a public apology because of how an unethical marketing campaign was carried out.
Feel free to read more here.
These events truly tarnished and decreases the credibility of influencers. Truth be told, I would trust more in the reviews of common people than influencers. How about you? Let me know your views too!