PR risks of Influencer Marketing

The world is in a place where traditional marketing is getting less and less effective as time goes by; digital marketing and especially influencer marketing has really come into perspective in the PR, Marketing and Advertising industries.

We’ve all been guilty of the pressure we get from social media to buy things and to live a certain lifestyle. I know it has been one of my guilty pleasures for some time now to order things that keep popping up on my Instagram feed and now Tiktok is making it even harder for me to resist on buying unnecessary things.

One thing for sure is that influencers are just growing by day and with more social media platforms coming into place; its hard for anyone to believe what they see anymore. A lot of influencers started marketing and promoting products in a more creative manner like making a videos or a short film on their stories; however sometimes that is not enough for organisations as they have a certain message to deliver to their consumers.

Now that platforms have gotten a lot stricter with the content on social media; influencers have to make sure to let the audience know that it is a paid ad even if they got a gift from a company free. “According to FTC regulations, disclosure needs to occur whenever a company provides a third-party person with any form of compensation like gifts, money, and services. The guidelines also state hashtag #ad or #sponsored should be clearly placed in the first three lines of a social media caption. If influencers fail to comply with the disclosure methods, they risk being warned or fined thousands of dollars by the FTC.” This is due to many of the complaints received by consumers that were not happy with the results of them making continuous purchases. Another point is, this is making it harder for people to make any purchase because who wants to purchase something that’s just an ‘ad’ where as before, the motivation behind the purchases where that their favourite influencers liked that specific product/service.

So what are the risks of all this that seems so simple and harmless? The answer is simply, the world of scandal. As many influencers start from the bottom and grow day by day. They are eventually casted as ‘celebrities’ which opens the doors to scandal. And nobody wants to purchase anything that a hated influencer advertises which then creates backlash for the company for working with them in the first place. A great example of a PR backlash was when Scott Disick (23.3 Million followers) copied and pasted his email that he received from the PR firm as the caption of his image, The post read: “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!” The company have not worked with him since then as it was quite embarrassing for them as he is clearly showing his audience that he does not care for their products.

I conducted some research with 20 random participants to get an idea of how many of them get effected by influencer marketing or if they actually believe they are being genuine. The results showed that people are less likely to purchase something because it is an ‘ad’ and would prefer buying it from someone who isn’t getting paid as the review would be more honest. Another finding is that, 85% of the participants believed that influence are less honest with their reviews when they mention that it is an ‘ad’. These finding clearly show that the world of influencer marketing is getting bigger and bigger for consumers to trust.


When looking at the comments of paid adverts on instagram; there’s a great variety of how people feel. Some followers mock and ask ‘Does it actually work?’ whereas some say ‘I want!’ and then there’s some who just simply like the picture and leave a positive reply. That’s why it’s a bit of a hit or miss when it comes to trying to promote a brand with a picture. Some influencers get more creative and make it more believable that it’s a good product with YouTube videos or even on their stories where they actually describe the product/service.

As for PR, their job is to make sure they use the right influencers to represent their brand as it has an impact on their brand image as well as their reputation. It is a crucial aspect of PR to have influencers that have been properly screened and researched into, in-case of any backlash.

#influencermarketing #Publicrelations #socialmedia #ads

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