A new field is emerging in influencer marketing where brands are paying people with minimal followings on social media to promote their products, BuzzFeed reports.
Advertising businesses are tapping into this emerging trend to turn to “everyday” social users into influencers overnight:
- Influencer marketing agencies are cashing in. There are ad businesses where anyone with a social media account can sign up to receive free products for review. Two such companies, BzzAgent and Influenster, have nearly three million members.
- There’s a clear strategy driving this trend. Posts from people with small followings get strong engagement, and bring an air of authenticity and trust. This helps brands skirt any negative perception tied to more blatant forms of advertising. And obviously, employing micro-influencers is much cheaper – free even – than tapping a celebrity.
- Regular users become online influencers. While searching for undisclosed influencer posts that violate the Federal Trade Commission’s ad disclosure guidelines, consumer advocacy group Public Citizen found that a “handful” of the 50 posts it found belonged to users with less than 1,500 followers.
- Blurring boundaries in sponsored posts. These micro-influencer posts sometimes appear with hashtags pointing out that it’s an influencer post or that the product was free, but there’s often no such indication. The concern is that sponsored posts are being so seamlessly integrated into social media that users can’t distinguish ads from regular content.
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