Facebook Tips Scales In Favor of Influencers

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Roll with the punches. That’s what brands have to do in a world ruled by Facebook, and that’s what’s happening now that the social giant recently announced that its revamped newsfeed would restrict brand (and publisher) exposure in favor of, as Hootsuite put it: “pictures of your uncle’s dog.”

Some brands are “rolling with the punches” by shifting budget, splitting it between Facebook directly in the form of Boosted Posts, and less visibly, through payments to “influencers,” AKA personalities with lots of organic fans whose content will continue to be “opted into” by consumers.

Why? Because the algo change doesn’t touch these people – in fact, it makes them – as a marketing vehicle – significantly stronger.

Why Influencers Win

While it’s unclear if or how Facebook plans to regulate influencers, right now the platform still treats them as individual users and not businesses (no matter how massive their followings happen to be).

Call this Facebook’s “influencer loophole,” what it means is that brands that choose to strategically partner with influencers will get through – those who cannot will not (unless they boost their posts via Facebook’s advertising system).

Choosing The Right Influencer

According to Andrew Burgess, CEO/Co-Founder of UGC Factory, “The best type of influencer is the one who is already a loyal customer of your brand.” A recent study by Cohn & Wolfe found that “64% of consumers would buy from a company they consider to be authentic over and above competitors,” so while partnering with a mega influencer might yield the biggest reach, partnering with an influencer who has a smaller reach, but more brand alignment will be more effective.

So how do you find these people? Well, ask yourself this: who’s talking about your brand online? Check YouTube, web-based user groups, Twitter support lines. Compile a list of candidates and follow them over a period of a few weeks. In any given niche, there are people who are outspoken, respected, authoritative, and wouldn’t mind being associated with a brand if it’s relevant to what they do. One can often reach out to these people on the very channels upon which they hang, chat, opine, and talk about products.

Avoiding Risk in the Influencer Economy

The FTC doesn’t object to agencies or brands paying social media celebrities to peddle products, as long as any paid relationships are disclosed prominently.
When they don’t big trouble can ensue. In 2016, the FTC, went after Lord & Taylor for a deceptive Instagram campaign and took action against Warner Brothers and PewDiePie in another high-profile take-down. There’s no doubt that the FTC is scrutinizing potentially deceptive social media posts more closely than ever, making it mandatory to run things “by the book.”

The problem is that there’s no uniform method of disclosure that’s good for each and every social network. This means that one must use a “reasonable consumer” model and ask whether such a person would know – from the totality of a given message and the context in which it is delivered – that it has been sponsored by a brand. Such a model is of course subjective, and it’s possible that many marketers and agencies who honestly believe that they are disclosing adequately (perhaps by adding the #ad or #sp tag somewhere in the message) are not actually complying with the law as the FTC interprets it.

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of disclosure, even though the use of such prominent disclosure language may depress CTRs below those which an undisclosed message might obtain.

You can find the FTC official Endorsement Guide at the following URL:

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking