Is that post #sponsored?
Have you ever seen a TV commercial with a celebrity or star athlete talking about how great a product is? You probably realized that they were paid for their endorsement, and it still may have influenced you to buy the product.
What if you saw that same celebrity post on social media about a particular sports drink, with the hashtag #recoverfaster? Would you think it was a paid promotion? It can be hard to tell.
Marketers have found new ways to promote products using social media and “influencers.” Those are celebrities, star athletes, and other people with strong online followings, and their posts endorsing products may be advertising.
If influencers are given free products or being paid for endorsements, they should disclose that clearly. We recently sent out over 90 letters to influencers and marketers to educate them on their responsibilities and on how to disclose their relationship effectively. If you see a post labeled “Ad,” “Promotion,” or “Sponsored,” or with a hashtag like “#Ad,” the person posting it is giving you important information about their connection to a marketer.
It can be hard to tell from a post if an influencer has not disclosed that they were paid, or got free products. When using social media, posts that appear to be independent endorsements or reviews may actually be paid promotions, so it can be helpful to look at reviews from a variety of sources.
For more information, watch this video about online reviews and recommendations.