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Social Media Influencers ‘Not Trusted’ By Shoppers As Tech Brands Cuddle Up To Them

Most shoppers do not trust social media influencers who are being courted by some of the biggest technology brands operating in Australia.

Some major brands who dish out free gifts and travel are spending tens of thousands flying influencers to the 2019 CES Show in Vegas in an effort to get free plugs on social media networks which many consumers are now turning away from due to security and trust issues.

New research conducted by Savvy Marketing for the BBC who operate a major content network in Australia reveals that 82% of people who took part said it was not always clear when an influencer had been paid to promote a product.

In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched new guidelines to help influencers stick to the rules while in Australia the ATO and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are investigating whether influencers should pay tax on gifts they receive in lieu of payment while the ACCC is also looking at whether social media celebrities have admitted on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn whether they have been paid to promote a product.

When a brand rewards an influencer with a payment, free gift, or other perk, any resulting posts become subject to consumer protection law.

When a brand also has control over the content, they become subject to the Australian Advertising Code as well as the regulations set down by the ACCC.

The survey was conducted among more than 1,000 shoppers.

One of the highest-paid YouTube celebrities is Jeffree Star.

Forbes magazine estimates that he earned $32M this year. He has more than 11 million subscribers to his YouTube channel and nearly 10 million followers on Instagram.

Alastair Lockhart from Savvy Marketing said: “Shoppers are a knowledgeable lot and tend to be pretty wise when deciding how much to trust an influencer’s recommendations.

“However, we can see from the research that it’s not always clear and a lot of younger people in particular are influenced by their suggestions.”

David Legrand a senior retail executive said: “When you have an influencer speak about product straight away, almost within an hour of them promoting something, you can see uplift in sales. Brands are trying to influence the influencers or have influencers of their own.”

But Mr Legrand warned consumers that it’s not always easy to work out when an influencer is being paid and when they aren’t: “It’s sometimes difficult for the public to work out what is and isn’t bias.”

As part of its investigation in the UK, the CMA which is the equivalent of the ACCC has written to a range of celebrities and social media influencers to gather more information about their posts and the nature of the business agreements that they have in place with brands.

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