Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Rising Instagram Stars Are Posting Fake Sponsored Content"

Atlantic:

A decade ago, shilling products to your fans may have been seen as selling out. Now it’s a sign of success.

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When a local amusement park paid several bloggers to attend the venue and post about their experience there, Joshi, a fashion and lifestyle influencer, went on her own dime and posted promotional posts as if she were part of the bigger influencer campaign.

Taylor Evans took the fake-“sponcon” game one step further, once faking the entire purpose of a trip to Miami. Technically, she was just there on vacation, paying her own way for everything, but on Instagram she positioned it as an exclusive press trip. “I took a lot of pics at restaurants and posted ‘Thanks so much XYZ restaurant for the hospitality!’” she said. “You say it in a way that people could interpret it as you having an established relationship with that brand … The hope is that it’s perceived in a way that looks like there’s a reason you’re in a different city and state, not just enjoying a weekend vacation.”

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For the average consumer, things become blurry quickly. Many fashion influencers tag the brands they’re using in photos, whether the clothes were purchased, given to them for free, or are part of an ad campaign. Lifestyle blogging is all about seamlessly monetizing your good taste and consumer choices, which means it can be near-impossible for laypeople to tell if an influencer genuinely loves a product, is being paid to talk about it, or just wants to be paid to talk about it.
When I started this blog, the tags "Disney," "advertising," and "video games" were actually useful ways of distinguishing stories...

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