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COMMENT: Can You Trust An Influencer Or Blogger To Tell You The ‘Real Truth’?

Can you trust a blogger or a so-called influencer to sway your purchase of a technology or appliance purchase? or are you relying on the opinion of a person who has simply been “bought” and will say anything because they have been given free flights and gifts and revel in the fact that they are seen as having “influence” by digital marketers at big brand Companies.

Online endorsements from celebrities and influencers can help boost brand sales through exposure to their millions of followers and this is what the big brands want.

Last year the ACCC admitted that celebrities could sway the shopping habits of millions of people by telling followers on channels such as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram about a product.

Recently celebrities and social media influencers in the UK have been ordered to clearly state when they have been paid to endorse products or given gifts or loans online and this in itself opens up a can of worms as to the credibility or skill set of the people who are being used.

It also raises serious questions as to how vulnerable consumers are who rely on a person because they are seen as a “celebrity” or a person who has managed to drive traffic to a site.

It’s akin to asking a plumber to fix an electrical problem.

At the recent CES show in Los Vegas, an event I have attended for 24 years including before that the Comdex show, a so-called influencer who had been flown to the USA all expenses paid including business class travel by a major brand, was standing next to me on a stand, when they asked me what 24bit audio means, they also struggled to understand what the difference was between MicroLED and OLED.

It appears that their motto is like lawyers “I am paid to plead and plead I shall”. Irrelevant of whether what they are claiming is accurate.

Some brands have been slammed for using cringworthy influencers Huawei Mobile’s latest video featuring two influencers, Mo Vlogs and Lana Rose, was slammed.

The video stars the two Internet celebs with Mo playing the role of an over-enthusiastic customer who knows all about the phone’s features and Lana playing the role of the salesperson who doesn’t need to do any sales because Mo is already excited and ready to buy the phone.

Recently it was revealed that celebrities including Alexa Chung, Rita Ora, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Ellie Goulding are among 16 celebrities who are currently being investigated by the UK government.

All of the 16 named celebrities were looked into by authorities because they may have repeatedly breached the guidelines laid out by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK.

In Australia ChannelNews understands that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is looking at several claims made by bloggers and celebrities who have not declared in their comments and editorials that they are paid or incentivised employees of a brand and that their “positive” spruiking of a brand or service is not independent.

In the UK authorities made an order for stars to be more transparent over their endorsement deals when posting to social media.

It comes following warnings that rules on advertising were being flouted by a number of high-profile Instagram and Twitter users.

If so, called influencers do not clearly declare that they have been paid or received products as gifts they endorse, they could be in breach of consumer protection law in Europe.

In Australia the sooner that consumer protection authorities step in and apply the same rigorous process with blogger and influencers forced to apply the hashtag #ad, #sponsored or #freebie in a ‘prominent’ position on each individual post the more a consumer will understand that the opinion is far from independent.

All content that includes adverts or discount codes and provides a form of payment, whether monetary or in the shape of free gifts, must also be declared.

British singers including Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora and Alexa Chung, here, are among 16 celebrities who have made the formal commitment to support the new regulations.

In Australia some influencers are even getting their children to pass opinions for brands exposing them to risk in a digital world.

Talking Influence wrote recently that to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to spot influencer fraud, which is unfortunately still a major issue in the influencer marketing space.

With influencer marketing continually growing and changing metrics being used to measure and judge an influencers success, it is becoming harder to spot when influencers are authentic or whether they are cutting corners with both brands and the followers they are meant to be influencing.

They claim that every brand should be responsible for how it works with influencers, but not every company has a moral high ground and if an influencer has an audience it’s a case of bugger the fact that they are not skilled to comment, let’s throw some money and goods at them to buy their opinion.

There is even Companies flogging access to ‘Influencers’ for of course, a price.

Tribe claims that their influencers can create a campaign in under 10 mins and submit creative posts within days. They list Cannon, IKEA the NAB bank, Lakeland the former The Good Guys brand that was recently dumped due to poor sales in Australia as well as Land Rover among their clients.

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