Protect ourselves from 'Influencer Culture'

influencer

An influencer is someone who is able to persuade a lot of other people, for example their followers on social media, to do, buy, or use the same things that they do. They are often paid or given free products in exchange for doing this.
Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

Protect ourselves from Influencers.

Getting a famous person to endorse a product/service is not really a new marketing strategy, but with the ever increasing use of social media the ‘influencer culture’ has taken on a greater role in marketing.
However, ‘Influencers’ get well rewarded according to the number of their ‘followers’ and the ACCC has been looking into the failure of some to ‘disclose their affiliation with the product or company they are promoting’.

ACCC social media sweep targets influencers

Advertising and promotions Compliance and enforcement

The ACCC has started a sweep to identify misleading testimonials and endorsements by social media influencers. It will also look at more than 100 influencers mentioned in over 150 tip-offs from consumers who responded to the ACCC’s Facebook post asking for information.

Most of the tip-offs from members of the public were about influencers in beauty and lifestyle, as well as parenting and fashion, failing to disclose their affiliation with the product or company they are promoting.

“The number of tip-offs reflects the community concern about the ever-increasing number of manipulative marketing techniques on social media, designed to exploit or pressure consumers into purchasing goods or services,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

As part of the sweep, the ACCC team is reviewing a range of social media platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook, and livestreaming service, Twitch. The sweep is targeting sectors where influencer marketing is particularly widespread including fashion, beauty and cosmetics, food and beverage, travel, health fitness and wellbeing, parenting, gaming and technology.

In conducting the sweep, the ACCC is also considering the role of other parties such as advertisers, marketers, brands and social media platforms in facilitating misconduct.

With more Australians choosing to shop online, consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when making purchases, but misleading endorsements can be very harmful,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

It is important social media influencers are clear if there are any commercial motivations behind their posts. This includes those posts that are incentivised and presented as impartial but are not. The ACCC will not hesitate to take action where we see consumers are at risk of being misled or deceived by a testimonial, and there is potential for significant harm.

Many consumers are aware that influencers receive a financial benefit for promoting products and services. However, the ACCC remains concerned that influencers, advertisers and brands try to hide this fact from consumers, which prevents them from making informed choices. This can particularly apply to micro influencers with smaller followings, as they can build and maintain a more seemingly authentic relationship with followers to add legitimacy to hidden advertising posts. The ACCC is therefore monitoring a mix of small and larger influencers in the sweep.

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Many also push risky things, whether it is unproven and potentially dangerous health products or remedies, poor or scam financial advice, sham or scam products/businesses and the list goes on. There may be some with some credibility, but, how does one sort the weeds from the chaff.

We occasionally get so called influencers contacting our business with a ‘promotion opportunity’. Usually it involves giving them free accommodation (holiday) for several nights in return for posting positive comments on their social pages. We always decline and state that they are happy to book by paying like anyone else. There has been information sent a few years ago through the industry to be polite to them, and don’t be disparaging. There have been business which have called them out publicly which has resulted in social media campaigns to discredit (troll) the business. They use their ‘influence’ to bully businesses to get what they want. It is about time the ACCC took action to call out these leaches.

Edit: the other risk of a business giving into an influencer is the ‘influencer community’ then knows you have succumb to another influencer and will hound you so that they can also get something free (which they think they are entitled to). If you aren’t obliging, they may take revenge on social media. This is why they are leaches.

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And a report on the damage they can cause…

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There’s even agencies that match influencers to companies promising increasing sales (300% one agency says).

From LinkedIn.com:
An influencer agency is a company that connects brands with influencers who can promote their products or services to their audiences. Influencers are people who have a large and engaged following on social media platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Twitter.

How much do Australian influencers get paid?

[Influencer Pricing: The Cost of Influencers in 2024 - Shopify]

Micro-influencers (10,000–50,000 followers): $100–$500 per post. Mid-tier influencers (50,000–100,000 followers): $500–$5,000 per post. Macro-influencers (100,000–500,000 followers): $5,000–$10,000 per post. Mega-influencers (500,000+ followers): $10,000+ per post.15 Feb 2024

This is much more insidious and dangerous than plain advertising as it is an endorsement presented as a personal experience of those who are admired by many. Hopefully people will wake up to the fact that it’s just disguised advertising.

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Influencers in firing line as France tackles scams

18 June 2023
By Aurore Laborie,
Paris

France has hit back at a wave of online scams involving influencers, who have persuaded their followers to part with savings for miracle cancer cures or other fake products.

A new law threatens online content creators with steep fines and two-year jail terms for promoting dangerous services or misleading commercial practices.

But it is not just the state that has intervened. Audrey, a mother of two children, was so shocked by the power of influencers, some of whom had made their names on reality TV shows, she set up her own Instagram account to call them out.

“I told myself this is totally wrong. You can’t do that to a community of people who probably worship you and make them take risks by making them buy from unreliable websites.”

She raised the alarm when she saw a former reality TV star promoting dietary supplements that claimed to kill cancer cells.

Her social media page, Your Stars in Reality, aims to expose misleading and illegal practices and provides tools to help prevent people falling for scams.

Some victims of influencers’ scams have been so deeply affected they have attempted to take their own lives, according to an association set up to help the victims of influencers.
“People got divorced, lost their housing, their job, fell into depression,” a spokesperson for the AVI Collective told the BBC.

Influencer Louise Aubéry says it’s a shame that many people now associate influencers with fraud

Many of the scams offer false trading advice that has cost victims more than €50,000 (£43,000), says French MP Arthur Delaporte, who cites AVI figures that suggest people have lost an average of €1,500.

“This bill is dedicated to the victims of scams, to the citizens’ watchdogs who have worked to alert the public authorities,” he told the upper house of France’s parliament as it prepared to ban the practice.

“It’s a public health issue,” Audrey told the BBC.
“When you’re ill, you want to believe that something exists that can save you from heavy treatment - or death. When people stop their cancer treatment thinking that a food supplement can cure them, it could be too late.”

But calling out influencers isn’t easy.

Last year, a YouTuber using the name Crypto Gouv scammed nearly 300 people and embezzled more than €4m, lawmaker Aurélien Taché told the National Assembly when the bill was being examined.
Crypto Gouv gave false instructions on investing in cryptocurrency and asked followers to entrust him with their funds.

Another popular scam targeted the French personal training and education scheme known as CPF - a system that grants funds of up to €500 to people of working age looking to access professional training.
Influencers were paid to advertise fake courses, contributing to some €43m of suspected CPF fraud in 2021, according to the economy ministry.

Products have been sold that never arrived, holidays have never materialised, and shampoos have been advertised containing banned substances that lead to hair loss.

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And not only hair loss, the Australian Dental Association has put out stern warnings about following Influencer promoted dental treatments, some which could lead to teeth loss:

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One of the big influencer scams in Australia have been ‘cancer scams’. Where influencers use the goodwill of their followers to scam money from them by claiming they have a cancer and need money for some reason. There have been high profile (infamous) cases such as Belle Gibson, but others appear in the media from time to time.

While it scams individuals, it also impacts on the ability of those who need some support to get assistance from others…as many will think that these might also be scams.

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I call them “paid advertising actors”. I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole.

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