The Kardashian factor: How you should be using sponsored content

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The Kardashian-Jenner family are a huge and influential force on social media and they have a massive following. 

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[Image credit: Instagram/@kimkardashian]

The members of the reality TV family - famous for their hit show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ - each have millions of followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Yet, the Kardashian clan recently came under fire for not declaring paid product endorsements on their Instagram accounts.

In fact, they were almost subjected to an investigation by the USA’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if they did not take the posts down or at least declare them as advertisements. Even Kourtney Kardashian’s former boyfriend, Scott Disick has been posting undeclared sponsored content - he was actually caught out when he pasted an entire email into his instagram comment rather than just the sponsored wording.

The FTC rules state that if you are advertising a product or a service on your social media channels, you must declare the posts as advertisements using the caption ‘#ad’.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@KylieJenner]

It now seems as though the threat of an investigation by the FTC has changed the Kardashian’s stance on declaring sponsored content, as all of their recent sponsored posts are now declared.

Members of the Kardashian-Jenner family are not the only people who have come under fire for not clearly stating paid sponsorship deals on social media. Recently, it transpired that pop singer and former Disney star Selena Gomez’s Instagram posts featuring herself with a Coca-Cola drink was an advert. This was not clearly stated in the caption, so therefore the posts violated the FTC rules. Eventually she edited the caption to include ‘#ad.’

In addition to this, many celebrities and digital influencers - including bloggers, vloggers, instagrammers - have faced heavy criticism for not declaring sponsored and compensated content. While there are some digital influencers who follow the FTC rules and regulations - the UK’s equivalent to the FTC is the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - there are still some popular digital influencers who are still not declaring sponsored content.This is very problematic and potentially illegal.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@kourtneykardash]

What’s wrong with not declaring?

Not declaring content isn't just illegal, it’s unethical. It potentially shows a lack of integrity and honesty, which can affect the trust people have in the person posting the content and the associated brand. There have been some cases where bloggers and vloggers promote a product or service but deliberately give the impression they purchased the product or service, which is very misleading to the consumer. 

Another issue is that there are some brands and PR firms will expect bloggers and vloggers to promote the product/brand/service in question on the condition they don’t declare that the product was sent to them or they were compensated in some way. That’s very unacceptable, it’s deceptive, it’s dishonest, it shows a lack of integrity on the influencer’s part and it shows a lack of respect for the viewer/reader/consumer, which they won't take well.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@khloekardashian]

Why declare?

So why declare sponsored content?

  • Declaring shows a high level of integrity and honesty on your part

  • It shows respect to your readers, viewers and consumers - remember, not all consumers are impressionable

  • You will be following the regulations of the ASA, FTC or your national advertising body

  • It means that consumers are not mislead into believing that you genuinely purchased the product yourself.

Despite its criticisms, sponsored content is a great way to drive engagement and boost brand awareness. It’s very common in the media world, especially when a brand sells physical goods, but in order to keep up ethical standards of practice, sponsored content on social media, blogs, vlogs and other media publications should be clearly stated.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@selenagomez]

This is why it is a good idea as a brand to set clear guidelines for bloggers, vloggers or Instagram users for any posts you sponsor. Not only will this protect the person posting the content, it will help to keep your company on the right side of the regulators.

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