Kim Kardashian has lessons for your brand’s influencer relationships

Kim_Kardashian_Instagram_InfluencerThough she’s no longer the most followed person on Instagram, it’s safe to say that Kim Kardashian is pretty influential. Recently however, that influence and a particular post she made has brought some unwanted pressure onto the reality star. You won’t typically find celebrity news on this blog but the post that was shared and the reactions to it has a resounding impact on your brand’s relationship with influencers and social media marketing.

We’ll discuss the overall impact and the lessons your brand can learn from this. But first, let’s recap what happened. Kim Kardashian posted about morning-sickness pill, Diclegis, on Instagram in a glowing endorsement. The issues with this post were that she didn’t state the risks along with the benefits of the drug, as required by the FDA, and Kardashian didn’t make it clear what her relationship with Duchesnay (the maker of Diclegis) was. Which, as we’ve written before, is something that the FTC is heavily prioritizing when it comes to Instagram influencers. The complaints from both the FDA and the FTC are good examples of the importance of knowing the rules of surrounding influencer marketing on Instagram before you launch your next campaign.

Issues from the FDA

The FDA has stated that both the benefits and the risks need to be clearly presented together in any ad in order to fully inform consumers. The FDA clearly acknowledges Instagram as an advertising channel with the enforcement of those rules on her post. And since it reached over 45 million Instagrammers, they certainly took this post seriously. The photo resulted in Kim & Duchesnay, Inc. receiving a formal warning letter from the FDA stating the issues and asking her to remove or revise the post in order to be compliant. In this case, the FDA’s issues were mostly focused on the brand but the same wasn’t true for the FTC.

Issues from the FTC

The FTC’s issue revolved around the misrepresentation of Kardashian’s relationship with Duchesnay, Inc. She stated that she was “excited and happy to partner” with the brand but the FTC didn’t view this as a clear enough statement of whether or not this post was for hire. Though the FTC hasn’t gone after individual influencer yet, some people like advertising attorney, Linda Goldstein, thought there was a chance she could be pursued for the violation if she didn’t revise the post.

Both of these issues show the legitimacy of Instagram as a promotional channel and the seriousness that is being placed on following the proper rules in all campaigns. There are lessons to be learned to make sure that when you run an influencer campaign on Instagram you know that you’re in the clear and following all of the right rules for a safe and effective campaign.

Lessons to be learned

Have influencers post according to FTC guidelines

We’ve covered these guidelines before. As evidenced by Kim Kardashian, these are important to understand in order to be confident that your influencers are constantly following them.

Don’t misrepresent the product

One of the biggest issues with Kim Kardashian’s post was that the FDA felt she misrepresented the product. This is especially important when dealing with food and drug products but applies to any form of social media promotion. Always be clear in the description of the product and don’t misrepresent any claims that your influencers make. This is where the influencer guidelines are important to make sure that your influencers are up to speed with the product. Authenticity is key. If they are familiar with the product, know and love it then they’ll be able to properly represent it. You want to spell out what the influencers should be posting because after all, this is an ad and should be treated with the same responsibility as any other form of advertising.

Disclose the relationship

Kim Kardashian certainly isn’t unfamiliar with social media promotions, having spoken at Cannes this year about the very subject. But in that very speech, she claimed that she avoids all promotions on her Instagram leaving the channel for personal posts. So, if Kim Kardashian says that her Instagram is just for own personal work and not paid promotions, what do we make of that post and how does it effect your brand’s work? The issue comes down to whether or not the photo was paid for and the need for Kim to clearly disclose that. Lord and Taylor earlier this year showed the importance of this. If you’re going to be posting ads on any social media, especially Instagram, that needs to be clearly disclosed. In Kardashian’s case, if she’s posting about products on Instagram, she needs to make it clear when those are ads and when they aren’t.

Don’t be afraid to correct mistakes

One lesson that shouldn’t be overlooked is that when you make a mistake with your promotion you need to be prepared to correct it. In this case, Kim and Duchesnay, edited the post and revised it with the proper language about her relationship and both the benefits and side affects of the drug. When you follow the FTC guidelines and you educate your influencers on how to properly post about your brand in a safe and effective way, then you’ll be in the clear. But be on the alert of potential slip-ups and be prepared to revise them to not bring on any unwanted pressure.

Kim Kardashian is one of the top social media influencers and there is a lot that she can teach your business about how to build a brand on social media and how to work with influencers. Take these lessons and apply them to your next Instagram campaign so that you can be on the right side of the FTC’s rules.

Read more: Top 5 Influencer Complaints About Marketers