Before I started my blog site, Of Curls and Colour, I was somewhat unaware of the workings of social media. I would see a person I follow rave about a lipstick or a hair product that she had used and loved and think that the views expressed were always sincere. Little did I know that she might have been sent that product to review or as a gift. Which brings me to a potential moral dilemma; as a so called influencer, are you obligated to tell your network that the product you raved about was sent to you? That the lippie you love so much is actually an ad?
If you have been sent a product to review and you hate it, or you were invited to a menu tasting but could not stomach the food, you have a couple of choices:
- Write/post about why you didn’t like the product but offer on how it can appeal to others. Because you take ethics (even on social media) seriously.
- Politely decline to give a review, at the risk of not being called upon by that media house again.
- Lie about how great it was so you can receive more products, gain followers or get paid.
There is limited space for authenticity on social media, but it is there. I was impressed to see a number of people I follow use #ad or #spon, or TaongaXfentybeauty and lately the “paid partnership” disclaimer. It’s these small things that make us readers/followers feel valued and respected.
It is also a matter of tact, which some people (myself included) seem to lack. If as a influencer, you are running a campaign or promoting a brand, the way is which you go about it either makes or breaks the intended impact. Telling your followers to “buy buy buy now”, or shoving marketing material down their throat can be off putting. It can in fact motivate your audience to unfollow you and your aggressive marketing. So dear influencers, remember why people started following you in the first place. Maybe they were attracted to your photography skills, your story telling, your sense of fashion, or your physique. In as much as it is easy to buckle under the pressure of social media fame, don’t forget why you have an audience in the first place. Keep your head above water and surround yourself with people that have your best interest at heart.
Some may argue that if you’re looking for authenticity then do not look on social media. I am certain that authenticity exists everywhere. It’s about the sort of brand that you want to put into the world. Please do not use the Of Curls and Colour shampoo and tell the world how much you love it, just because Of Curls and Colour sent it to you. So, if you ask me, no, you do have an obligation to tell us that your post is sponsored, BUT even if it’s a disclaimer in fine print somewhere at the bottom of a post or a hashtag hinting at a collaboration, it goes a long way in determining how your followers perceive you.
What are your views?