4 Tips for Using Instagram Influencers Effectively Without Getting Your Brand in Trouble

Trust in transparency, lean on data and more

Joel Wright, president and co-founder of #Hashoff, riffs on social marketing.
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Instagram last week introduced a clearer way for users to determine when posts by influencers or publishers are the result of commercial relationships with the businesses they are posting about. The Facebook-owned app said users will see demarcations that read “paid partnership with” on such posts.

The move came a couple months after the Federal Trade Commission sent 90 letters to social influencers for failing to adequately mark their posts as paid content.

Joel Wright, president and co-founder of influencer network #Hashoff, said marketers need advice after Instagram’s new rules, and he offered the following quartet of tips. His Denver-based company entails 150,000 influencers who have done branded work for companies like Bud Light on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat.

Here is his advice:

1. Don’t try to trick viewers
“Transparency is always the best policy—unless you have something to hide,” he said. “Consumers are smart, and they see through shameless product plugs.”

2. Context matters more now than ever
If you align branded work with your identity, Wright explained, “and content that is expected by your community, you have nothing to be concerned about.”

“Legitimate interest or affinity for a brand will come across as such when done in context,” he said.

3. Creative is key
Instagram influencers are content creators more than anything else, Wright said, so the work should sing.

“The audience they have built is based on great content experiences or points of view they provide,” he said. “Influencer marketing works when brands and influencers can develop content that is based on mutual benefit, meaning the influencer’s community benefits with something they will likely have interest in, [and] the brand benefits because they receive exposure against their target consumers in a contextual, highly authentic and creative way.”

4. Insights are a marketer’s best friend
Data will be the backbone of doing influencer marketing well on Instagram, Wright asserted.

“Without it, you are going to see influencer marketing become increasingly difficult,” he said. “You need to understand the context of a community—historical patterns, past creative, ensure brand safety, community metrics, real time communication and much more. Simply doing this, the subjective, old-fashioned way won’t scale as this becomes a more pervasive part of a brand’s marketing mix.”