Facebook announces it will allow influencers to produce sponsored content for US political campaigns - will influencer marketing win the US election?


Facebook announced today it will allow influencers to produce sponsored content for political campaigns.

If the posts are clearly identified as ads both Facebook and Instagram will allow them on their platforms. The arrangement only affects US political campaigns, however. 

Mike Bloomberg’s campaign team forced the issue of considering influencer marketing as a political tool earlier this week. The one-time New York major worked with Tribe to create a portfolio of influencer-generated content.

Yesterday The New York Times ran a story about Bloomberg embracing Instagram’s meme accounts, too. 

Facebook has had to move quickly on its position. Before today, the social network platform didn’t even have guidelines in place for influencers who create sponsored content for politicians and political campaigns.

According to The Verge, sponsored political content posted to Facebook won’t be placed automatically in its political Ad Library.  The creator must first pay to boost their post.

“Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it’s important people know when they’re seeing paid content on our platforms,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge. “We’re allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorised and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools.”

Today’s decision by Facebook comes just two days after the Federal Trade Commission called for a public review of the current influencer marketing rules which haven't been updated since 2009. 

The FTC, the independent agency of the US government, is tasked with promoting consumer protection and regulating influencer marketing.

“When companies launder advertising by paying an influencer to pretend that their endorsement or review is untainted by a financial relationship, this is illegal payola,” said FTC commissioner, Rohit Chopra in the 12 February statement.

He continued “Misinformation is plaguing the digital economy, and recent no-money, no-fault FTC settlements with well-known retailers and brands to address fake reviews and undisclosed influencer endorsements may be doing little to deter deception. The FTC will need to determine whether to create new requirements for social media platforms and advertisers and whether to activate civil penalty liability.

Earlier this week Bloomberg’s team uploaded a campaign to Tribe - the self-service branded content and influencer marketing market place.  

For a fixed $150 fee the presidential candidate’s brief calls for content from micro-influencers “that tells us why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected.”

“Are you sick of the chaos & infighting overshadowing the issues that matter most to us? Please express your thoughts verbally or for still image posts please overlay text about why you support Mike ... “Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate,” runs the campaign guideline brief.

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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