Social media has been a blessing and a curse for society. The ability to present ourselves to the world and connect with people from all around the globe is fantastic. It has brought people together and allowed families to share their lives like never before.
But it is undeniable that social media has also become a major detriment in some areas. Many studies have found that prolonged social media use can have negative effects on a persons mental health, due in part to how social media presents a fake ideal of a perfect life. Social media has also been a game-changer in the world of business and marketing. Companies constantly bring in new customers by making use of clever social media marketing tactics. But another trend that has emerged in recent years is Sponsored content. Sometimes called branded content or ghost marketing, sponsored content is something you will most likely be familiar with.
How Sponsored Content Works
There are a few different types of sponsored content out there. The most obvious type is when the influencer or content creator will vocally advertise a product. You may have seen the cheesy Shadow Raid Legends adverts that are everywhere these days. Much to the distaste of a lot of gamers. This content, while annoying, is very straightforward and honest about what it is. You know you are looking at an advertisement.
The other kind is a lot sneaker and, in some places, considered amoral. Ghost marketing. Guerilla marketing. Whatever you know it as. This type of marketing relies on the viewer not being aware they are being marketed too. It can be as simple as a YouTube content creator drinking a can of coke on screen or a fashion vlogger showing their audience a new makeup palette.
The issue with this type of marketing is that it is seen as dishonest. Stealth marketing tricks a person into buying a product through suggestion rather than convincing.
The Rules of Sponsored Content
Since social media and YouTube are both relatively new and still growing, there are not a lot of rules in place concerning the more shady aspects of this new influencer culture we are moving into. Which worked great for advertising companies who could jump in with their new tactics unopposed. But it didn’t take long for people to wise up and demand the rules be changed to ensure companies couldn’t pray on people anymore.
These days more and more people are trying their hand at becoming internet famous. Some go to extreme lengths like pulling outrageous pranks. Other simply play it smart and buy youtube views or Instagram followers. Others simply ride their sponsors to success.
And with so many people turning to the influencer lifestyle, it became necessary to start regulating advertising on these platforms. Starting with the biggest and most obvious change that people were calling for.
The new rules regarding guerilla advertising are simply this. You can’t do it. Instagram led the charge and forced its users to always disclose if any of their content has been sponsored. This goes for anything, even as small as drinking a can of coke. That is, of course, if the creator has been paid. A user is free to advertise for their favorite brands for free if they want and do not have to disclose it. But the moment they accept money from a sponsor, they have to disclose it.
Why We Need the Rules
Many people have been asking why we even need these rules. Stealth advertising is a massive boon to companies and can bring in new customers at a quicker rate than normal advertising methods. But the debate mainly focuses on the ethics of these practices.
On the anti-capitalist side of the argument, many say it is just immoral and only pushes us further into a capitalist society where people are not seen as people but rather money machines to be milked. But even some of the more capitalist-focused people argue that stealth marketing is unfairly weighted for larger companies. No small firm can really afford to sponsor influencers or content creators. And if a large company can stealth market they are going to surpass their smaller competitors with ease.
So, if influencers have to announce their sponsored content it makes it a level playing field. Customers can make a conscious decision to buy into the marketing or not and it allows them to be more brand awareness as well.
New Marketing Tactics
The one constant about the marketing world is how much it changes constantly. With ever new technological innovation and with every new social media platform we are introduced to new ways of marketing. Companies are relentless and will stop at nothing to make a sale.
Since we don’t know what is going to come next in terms of innovation, we can never know what new methods of marketing these companies will come out with. And the same issues will repeat time and time again. They will exploit these new methods until governments and companies decide to implement new rules to stem unethical practices.
Our advice is to always be vigilant online. Remember that social media is fake most of the time. Keep yourself informed and aware and think about your purchases before you make them.