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The Rise (and Rise) of the Micro-Influencer

Brands have long used celebrities to promote their wares, usually for a hefty price tag (depending on the notoriety of the celebrity in question).

Seeking more bang for their influencer buck, brands are increasingly turning to a reasonably new breed – micro-influencers. 

These are usually everyday people who have a sizeable follower base (generally less than 100,000).

The upside

Their value is in their perceived authenticity. Unlike celebrity endorsements, micro-influencers may be more trusted by their followers.

Their followers tend to identify quite closely with them – “they’re just like me!”.

The dark side

Section 2.7 of the AANA Code of Ethics states advertising or marketing communications must be clearly identified as such to the relevant audience. Failing to disclose a sponsorship or ‘cash-for-comment’ relationship may also be misleading under the Australian Consumer Law.

This is generally more obvious with celebrity endorsements, but may be less so with micro-influencers and means that commercial arrangements must be disclosed in posts featuring or promoting the brand’s products.

There’s no hard and fast rule that posts must be accompanied with hashtags or any particular warning message – it just has to be clear to the reader that the post is advertising. Some platforms have their own rules.

Sponsorship is not limited to payment. Sending free product to a micro-influencer should ideally be disclosed and may render subsequent posts advertising if the brand in any way controls or influences their content.

Other key watch-outs

  • Reputational risk – do your due diligence to ensure your target micro-influencer is a good fit for your brand.
  • Ensure influencers don’t run amok with your brand. Keep tight controls on your intellectual property.

Clear as mud

This can be a tricky area both legally and reputationally. We recommend brands engage influencers contractually and get advice first.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Kelly is the founder of KHQ Approved, which offers fixed fee solutions across a range of areas (including marketing law and contract review).  Peace of mind from an experienced team for a reasonable price.

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