Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/22/17

This is a fantastic overview of what happened to the DNAinfo and Ist site as they faced down the last days before being shut down by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts and just what the communities they operated in have lost in terms of watchdogs and local voices.

That may seem worrisome when you ponder the future of a fair and independent media, but don’t worry.

It’s not as if the FCC wants to eliminate the guidelines that keep the internet a level playing field for companies both big and small to survive and thrive based not on how much they can afford to pay internet providers but on the quality of their products while ignoring comments from the public. Or that it wants to relax other rules that will allow a single company to own multiple outlets in every market, creating a homogenous media ecosystem that is accountable not to the truth but to profits.

Or that bunch of secret companies are tracking your web usage to a degree it can tell who you are, how much you make, what illnesses you might have and more, all without you opting into any such profile building.

Or that the current administration seems to be opposing the merger of two media/tech companies based largely on how one part of one of those companies has been critical of the president.

Or that the tech companies that dominate our lives still can’t get over the mindset that their algorithms can be perfected without ever once delving even once into philosophy or remotely human perspectives but seem to be content manipulating our emotions and behaviors without thought to the consequences and continuing to allow illegally targeted ads.

Or that the problems seen last week in the media world are nothing compared to the crash expertly outlined by Josh Marshall, one that will result in a number of other failures and even more layoffs that result in a glut of talent that drives wages down even if new video distribution and monetization models do emerge.

Or that a legitimately insane tax plan going through Congress could have massive ripple effects throughout the entire economy that could exacerbate already staggering income and opportunity inequality.

So, you know, we’re totally fine.

In Other News…

The FTC has updated its disclosure guidelines around influencer marketing on social media to address various issues and close various loopholes that were being exploited (sometimes with the explicit endorsement of shady agencies) to keep the audience in the dark on the presence of a paid relationship.

Yeah, it’s kind of weird that things like coffee machines and pizza are serious rallying points for political speech but that’s where we are in 2017 it seems.

I was wondering why I was getting a whole bunch of new followers on Ello (I never deleted my profile for some reason) and it seems it’s finding new life as a portfolio community for creative types.

Apparently The Washington Post is a software company now, licensing the custom CMS it created to others. Interesting, but this isn’t exactly groundbreaking as I’m fairly sure this kind of thing has been happening elsewhere in the media world since about 2005.

Following up on the post I wrote last week about how various social networks try to cater to creators as much as possible to keep their loyalty, Facebook has introduced a whole new set of tools to help people make engaging videos.

Facebook will now let you view web-based VR experiences from directly within the News Feed.

Not only has Instagram enabled people joining live broadcasts but you can now request to join the stream of the friend you’re watching.

Want even more recommendations? Check out my Pocket Shared Items.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Marketing Always Follows Consumer Trends

I was intrigued by the headline to this piece on Vice the other day that examined a few examples where music videos from popular artists seemed to closely resemble the kinds of photos posted by popular Instagram travel influencers. Not that those people are being copied overtly, but there are similarities in the approaches and the kinds of images shown.

It’s not surprising that artists and singers would look to the world of social media celebrities for inspiration. That’s a good indicator of what’s resonating with the audience. Those influencers are tastemakers and music videos have always reflected the larger media world around them, whether that meant including leggy models shot in high gloss black and white, experimental indie film, or narrative portraits of complicated characters. Videos are advertisements for the artists and their products and so, just as ad agencies are hiring influencers to help them navigate trends, so too their habits are being analyzed and copied to sell music.

What was more notable to me was the fact that, like the Chicago River in 1900, the flow has been reversed. It’s not artists and other more traditional celebrities providing the influence, it’s the everyday person with an Instagram or other social media account that’s influencing the culture.

I’m much less interested in what visuals or themes may have been lifted than the fact that it’s no longer the traditional media that’s doing the influencing. That’s a profound shift in the dynamic that’s been in place since, roughly, ever.

It’s true that many fashion and other lifestyle trends, along with definitions of what’s hip or not, have often percolated up from the general public before they’re fully captured by the media. So the idea that consumers are driving these areas isn’t wholly original. But that handoff has usually meant the move from a niche to mainstream awareness.

Whatever direction the trends are flowing, one thing remains constant: It’s brands and companies that have a vested interest in defining “cool” that still have much of the power and play a large role in determining what is or isn’t seen. In the old days, they would work magazine and other editors to include their products on “Must Buy” lists, have their fashions worn on movie premiere red carpets and otherwise have them seen by those with the power to change habits. The goals are still the same, it’s just the tactics now include working with social media influencers.

So music videos and other popular entertainment retain their position as the outlet for secondary explosions from the initial efforts. You send review product to an influential person, that product becomes part of a trend because of those efforts and then that’s reflected in the entertainment world.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

(Featured image via Vice)

How Social Networks Cater to Influencers and Creators

When Vine was shuttered last year, a large portion of the blame was assigned to the company’s inability or unwillingness to listen to the community of creators and foster their loyalty. Stories surfaced soon after it was shut down that a number of the top creators on the app reached out to Twitter to talk about what it could do to keep them active on the platform, including opening up a payment system to help them produce content that would continue attracting an audience of loyal fans.

It might seem odd that a bunch “nobodies” would essentially hold out their hands and ask for money in addition to preferential treatment from a large company in order to remain loyal. You might think they need the platform more than the platform needs any individual user, or even a handful of popular people.

That’s not the situation social networks find themselves in in 2017, though. The dynamic is instead one that favors the individual influencer and puts the power in their hands, meaning the companies that control these social distribution platforms are dependent on a small number of “influencers” to maintain whatever status they have as being hip and popular or help them reach that level.

It’s this situation that is at least in part behind the news that Snap, which just reported some troubling numbers about growth in the Snapchat user base, is not only considering a substantial redesign of the app to ease onboarding but also paying top creators to keep using it. Snapchat does not want to follow Vine into the great beyond and is willing to write checks to keep people happy.

Influencer Marketing in 2017

According to a study released in December of 2016 by content agency Linqia, 86% of marketers were already engaged in some sort of influencer marketing effort and 48% reported plans to expand those budgets in 2017, the latest in a series of spending increases.

So why is influencer marketing so hot right now?

According to a MediaKix study last year, people are spending almost two hours a day on social media. And social media is increasingly being split into two feeds: 1) The organic feed of updates from friends and family and 2) The paid ads from media companies and other brands that interrupt the stream of updates from the first category.

The reasons for brand updates being given less preferential treatment in the various algorithm-based feeds are many, but the result is that the content marketing programs companies spent years building up aren’t seeing the return on investment they did, say, five years ago. That combined with the rise of ad blockers online and on mobile and it’s clear that people don’t want to be marketed to and the distribution platforms currently dominating the media world wants you to pay to reach people.

That’s coincided to a large extent with the rise of the social media influencer, an individual who attracts a large following on a social platform through unique, original and (usually) wholly creative content. It can be beauty tips, it can be video game reviews, it can be technology updates. It can be on literally any topic.

So, in order to have their marketing messages seen by a highly influential audience, brand marketers turn to those influencers. There are no end of niche agencies that manage databases of influences of all kinds and are more than happy to do the research for a brand and then make the connection, for a substantial fee. The ROI may still be questionable, but the reach is impressive. Ad agencies are even adding influencers to their teams to try and tap into their insights about the audience and what attracts them.

Buying Platform Loyalty

One of the big issues with influencer marketing is that the ground always seems to be shifting. Because these influencers make a living on their image of being hip and cool, they want to be on the platforms that are seen as hip and cool. What those platforms are, though, changes over time. Platforms jockey for position, often by working to attract talent away from other platforms, including by paying them to make that switch.

Here’s how some of today’s top social platforms are offering money and features to influencers to keep them happy and creative and away from other apps and networks.

youtube app iconYouTube doesn’t pay creators directly but it has revamped its Creators Site after it acquired FameBit, a creator/brand connection company. It also added functionality to the Studio app to make creation and publishing videos easier. That being said, it hasn’t been transparent about changes to content and advertising policies, leaving many creators concerned over sudden drops in revenue.

Instagram_Logo1Instagram does not pay top users to keep using it, but it may not need to. It was identified last year as one of the top two platforms for influencers and one of the two, including YouTube, influencers said they were most likely to leave Snapchat to focus on, an exodus powered by the ease of making money on Instagram. Influencers posting branded content have tools available that allow them to easily disclose those paid relationships.

facebook logo 2Facebook is the only platform more popular than Instagram among influencers, Facebook has worked hard to keep influencers happy as well as the brands that pay them, and pay Facebook. This past March it expanded the availability of branded content to more Pages and Profiles. So influencers who post paid content can tag that company as a form of disclosure. It also added a feature that allows brands to pay to boost an influencer’s post directly, without the brand page having to share it in its own post first.

twitter app iconTwitter has a multi-faceted relationship with influencers and creators. While it certainly dropped the ball when it came to Vine, it has made other moves that show it gets how important a good relationship with that community is. It has touted the effectiveness of influencer marketing on the network and owns Niche, an agency that facilitates connections between brands and those influencers, so it has a vested interest in this category growing. Late last year it opened up revenue sharing for video creators and has been experimenting with ways for fans to pay top Periscope creators through engagement.

musically app iconMusical.ly, just sold to a Chinese tech company last week for a reported $800 million, quite the price tag for an app that didn’t exist three years ago. Like Periscope, fans can “gift” creators actual payments. Brands have been working with top creators on that platform for a while now and is said to be exploring other monetization efforts that would benefit both the company and the influencers eager to reach its teen audience.

pinterest app iconPinterest was identified as one of the top apps for female influencers, who were finding more success there due to the demographics of that network. Recognizing that it had a group of talented “pinners” who could help brands create engaging content it brought those creators into the Pin Collective it launched in October of 2016. That system allows marketers to work directly with influencers, who are paid for their efforts.

medium app iconMedium has pivoted its business model more times than you can count in the last few years, most recently introducing the Partner Program – first to just a few and recently to everyone – that lets users put select posts behind a membership paywall. Unlike a previous incarnation, that membership is not publication specific but for the whole site, with publishers getting a cut based on the engagement of each post they restrict access to.

Brands Pay Multiple Times

The cost of actually working with an influencer goes beyond what that individual may charge to reach his or her audience. Roughly 70% of brands say they repurpose influencer content and 36% report doing so via paid ads. So the actual cost of influencer campaigns includes some combination of the following:

  • In-house cycles spent developing the creative brief
  • Paying a relationship agencies to find the “right” influencer for a campaign
  • Paying the influencer’s core branded content fee
  • Paying for repurposing that content in ads either on social networks or in other media

It obviously remains to be seen whether or not Snapchat can change its trajectory. Since it IPOd earlier this year the stakes are higher than ever for it to succeed, but it needs to not only get past the “I don’t get it” problem that has many delete the app shortly after trying it out and to increase its attractiveness among influential creators. Snapchat Discover allows select media brands to not only create unique content but to sell ads against that content, with the revenue split with Snap. It seems the company could be pondering something similar for influencers.

Money only buys loyalty for as long 1) The spigot keeps flowing and 2) Someone else doesn’t offer a better deal. That means there’s a very small window for Snap to get in on this game and leverage its position to achieve any sort of success.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

What Is User-Inspired Content?

Brands helping tell people’s story for them

A couple weeks ago I came across a phrase I’d previously been unfamiliar with: User-inspired content.

I was kind of shocked at the phrase. “User-generated content” has been in usage for over a decade in the online marketing world to describe the material that’s produced by everyday people online, those unaffiliated with brands or agencies. This material was held up by marketers as very important because it showed the talent of the people actually buying products, talent that grew over time as the tools of creation were improved. A whole cottage industry was born as agencies and others integrated UGC into official marketing campaigns and brands were advised to respond to blog posts, social media comments and more feedback.

Eventually everyone figured out (some far later than others) that you couldn’t just grab photos from Flickr and put it in your national print ad campaign without consent. At least not without being sued for doing so. The emergence early on of the Creative Commons license helped with this, allowing creators to clearly signal whether their work could be used for commercial purposes and what credits had to be included if it was. Even so, brands would occasionally have their hand slapped by a photographer, video creator or other individuals who showed they had essentially stolen their work for their marketing.

In other words, even if some marketer didn’t actually reappropriate an actual photo, video or other bits of content outright, they were still on the hook if they had clearly copied what someone had already done.

Enter Inspiration

User-inspired content, then, seems to be not on using content other people have produced but telling marketing stories that are centered around the actual users of a product or service. So instead of asking Stacy if you can use her video in your campaign you can use Stacy and tell her story yourself.

That shift in tactics means the marketer herself is in control of the process and not subject to whatever Stacy (or whomever) has created already. Tamper with the UGC too much and you lose the authenticity. Create your own ad and you have to claim to authenticity. But use your official platform to tell Stacy’s story and you get to still retain some semblance of the rough-and-tumble UGC world while still exercising oversight over the content. The presumption seems to be that it’s the best of both worlds.

Aside from one or two mentions from several years ago the most recent conversations around user-inspired content comes from Expertcity, an agency that matches brands with experts and influencers to help guide their decisions and choices. CEO Kevin Knight spoke on the topic at a recent WOMMA event and wrote a sponsored post on Digiday on the topic.

The Next Evolution of Influencers

The industry’s current fascination with “influencers,” either macro– or micro-, was the direct result of the attention paid to user-generated content. Eventually those who were best at producing such material amassed sizable followings, aided by their presence on the radars of marketing managers who fed them products to review and news to break. That market is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future.

Facebook and other platforms have made it easier for brands to get the maximum value out of those campaigns, letting them pay to boost an influencer’s own post without having to create one of their own, while also putting more structures in place to clearly identify which influencer posts come as a result of a paid relationship.

User-inspired marketing seems to cut out the middleman in that equation. Influencers, or something close to that definition, are still important but instead of working with brands to create their own content, they are co-opted by the brand into corporately-managed messages.

Here’s the evolutionary track laid out more clearly:

  1. User-generated marketing: Cool picture, Tim, can we use it on our website?
  2. Influencer marketing: Here’s a brief and a review unit, Tim, you create your own video.
  3. User-inspired marketing: We love your story, Tim, and would like to use it in our campaign.

The through-line in that history is that corporate and other marketers are looking to regain some of the control in the messaging. UGC was often messy and came with a lot of complications. Influencer marketing means your message is secondary to the talent staying on-brand for their audience. UIC, though puts the brand marketer back in the driver’s seat.

What’s Old Is New Again

This isn’t so much an evolution to something wholly new but a return to something that’s been in regular use by the marketing and advertising industries for decades: The testimonial. Through that tactic, user stories have been used on TV, in print and in other media as part of the marketing mix for almost as long as there’s been an industry.

That people were more likely to believe someone’s personal story is the reason traveling salesman, both legitimate and otherwise, would put a cohort in the crowd to “spontaneously” begin sharing their experience. They were the “shill.”

Right now this concept seems to be fairly limited in its reach. I’m anticipating hearing more about it if it catches on as a way for brand marketers to once more own the production and distribution of the consumer message, particularly if it comes without the hefty price tag often attached to influencer marketing campaigns.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/12/17

Not surprising that activewear and beauty brands are those most likely to engage in influencer marketing, but it is a bit shocking that 70% of brands across industries have done so.

Time spent in mobile shopping apps is growing, with the biggest players like Amazon and Target seeing the most benefit from that trend.

If you read one thing today, make it Farad Manjoo’s gut-check of the “Frightful Five” technology/entertainment companies and the hold they either have or could have on culture.

Twitter continues to get it wrong on every possible occasion by suspending Rose McGowan’s account in the middle of her crusade against Harvey Weinstein and other abusers, apparently because she included a phone number in one Tweet. Meanwhile, those calling McGowan and countless other women the most terrible of names (not to mention all the racism) are just fine, thanks. She was eventually reinstated.

Publishers are finding Facebook Live isn’t living up to its initial promise and so are reexamining Twitter as a place to host live video programs and broadcasts.

There’s so much good information in this story recapping a study into mobile push alert usage, the issues publishers face in providing them and more. Highly recommended.

Facebook says it deals with “fake news” in about three days after it’s published, which is about two days and 18 hours too late.

Yes, Snapchat is still doing just fine with teenage audiences, who still prefer it to Instagram. At least according to this study. Next week there may be a new one that directly contradicts those numbers. Nothing matters.

YouTube has relaunched its Creators website with more tools on how to produce quality videos and attract an audience.

To the surprise of hopefully no one, LinkedIn is slowing rolling out and experimenting with videos ads that will likely become more and more common as time goes on.

Blah blah blah Facebook 3D posts VR blah blah blah.

Facebook has introduced Stories for Pages, allowing brands and publishers to jump in on the hot new format being adopted by roughly every social and messaging platform in the hopes that someone will please use it because right now no one is.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/3/17

comScore is the latest company seeking to help advertisers determine how well their ads, in this caseTV and digital, are driving physical store sales.

More shade being thrown on the cost-effectiveness of what are now called “macro-influencers,” those with huge audiences.

More ways for retailers to use Instagram’s shoppable posts are now available.

You can now add polls to Instagram Stories, getting your followers’ feedback on whatever you like.

Facebook is finally adding new tools for publishers and creators tired of having their videos freebooted, integrating third-party services into Rights Manager.

The Verge and Polygon are joining Buzzfeed in producing live video programming for Twitter.

Snap Accelerate is a new program from Snapchat to help startups who are just figuring out their advertising in general embrace that platform quickly and easily.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 9/29/17

  • YouTube’s Studio app now lets creators schedule videos for publication right from within the mobile app.
  • The FTC has stated the in-app features for influencers to disclose paid relationships aren’t sufficient, making it clear once more that brands are responsible for ensuring adherence to guidelines.
  • New tools from YouTube will allow for automated remixing of video assets and better targeting based on both online and offline behavior.
  • Fox is doubling-down on its own FX+ streaming service, removing its shows from other OTT providers.
  • Three-quarters of social media efforts in support of sponsorships are handled in-house, not by agencies or other parties.
  • Instagram’s touting 800 million monthly and 500 million daily users, as well as two million advertisers.
  • WordPress has connected with Google Photos to allows photos and videos shared on the latter to be used in posts on the former.
  • Facebook has committed to including “dark posts” in its report on advertising activity, a step Twitter says it doesn’t need to take because promoted content works differently there.
  • Vimeo will acquire Livestream and is launching Vimeo Live, bringing livestreaming to the service for the first time.
  • There are new ways for you to control who can or can’t comment on your Instagram posts, part of a move to increase security.
  • Rolling Stone is the latest media outlet to announce it’s “pivoting to video” as a way to save money and make itself more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Advertisers using Facebook Messenger chatbots for their campaigns will have new objectives available to them.
  • Yelp is leaning into the success it’s found with home services with a new “Request A Quote” feature for users to quickly get estimates from providers.
  • Marketers are making adjustments based on changing consumer search patterns, including the growth of mobile usage.
  • Giphy’s new Sticker Embed tool lets you essentially vandalize your favorite (or least favorite) website by adding stickers to it.
  • The New York Times will be participating in Facebook’s new push to encourage subscription, but others, including The Washington Post, are sitting it out.
  • The NYT is also experimenting with customization, showing people different versions of its homepage based on their preferences and behaviors.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 9/22/17

  • Hulu is committing $2.5 billion to the arms race it’s engaged in with other streaming companies who see original content as the key to success.
  • An analysis by Parse.ly shows Flipboard is second-only to Twitter in terms of sending referral traffic to publishers on mobile devices.
  • The pilot of the new supernatural comedy “Ghosted” will premiere on Twitter days before it airs on TV, part of a deal between Fox and Twitter.
  • Brands are adding social media influencers to their marketing rosters to harness and own their creativity and I will be over here never stopping hitting my head on my desk.
  • Interesting thinking here about the future of AI in the news industry, both as part of production and consumption.
  • Pinterest is finally rolling out “Sections,” allowing people to create sub-boards to more finely tune their saved and shared links.
  • No surprise that thanks in large part to the (largely) free nature of the platforms, social media is a big part of the marketing plans of small businesses.
  • Audience ad targeting on Pinterest just a lot more detailed.
  • The RIAA is out with a mid-2017 report showing just how much money it’s making from streaming services, a big change from the download model of not too long ago.
  • I’m actually quite shocked at the percentage of traffic to Nordstrom’s that’s reported to come from influencer marketing programs.
  • Medium continues to pivot, including plans to hire editors and curators as part of its next iteration, though Ev Williams still doesn’t have a clear answer to what the site/platform is.
  • Female influencers aren’t huge on Snapchat, preferring Instagram and even Pinterest.
  • Facebook is introducing a new way to target offline retail customers with ads and tie those ads to physical sales. This is super-creepy and not far off from what I predicted here.

Defining My Ethical Boundaries

(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)

So last time I shared some of the ethical guidelines I’ve striven to adhere to over the years I’ve spent working and advising clients and employers. Guidelines are great, but it’s also important to know where the absolute boundaries are, the lines you won’t cross.

Just as with anything else regarding personal and business ethics, adhering to these guidelines and boundaries is going to bring you into conflict at some point or another with someone you work with. That’s inevitable. It’s not that these are bad people. Most of the time it’s just because they aren’t as well-informed as you might be on a particular issue so has a different perspective. They simply think the guardrails are in a different place. It’s therefore incumbent on subject matter experts to educate and inform, providing the background and context for why a line in the sand isn’t just a subjective, arbitrary one but is objective and immovable.

So Where Are My Own Boundaries?

When I think about the lines I’ve drawn over the years in the workplace they almost all have to do with transparency and misrepresentation. It’s been a “thing” for me in more than a few meeting and I’ve taken every opportunity to explain to the other people in the room or on the phone why it’s so important to me.

Long before the FTC was even considering guidelines around disclosure of paid sponsorships or the reviewing of free products, my coworkers and colleagues and I were pushing for anyone we worked with to be transparent about the relationship. Back when Tom Biro and I were putting together an influencer review program, we included a caveat in the contract saying that while participants were not required to write about the product on their blogs, if they did so they needed to disclose that they got it from us as part of a marketing effort.

That focus has continued over the years. Influencers or fans recruited into marketing plans needed to explain to their audience that they were getting special access or products from the company. Paid ads that were placed on the networks I was managing needed to include clear messaging flagging it as an ad. This was all before Facebook or Instagram put tools in place to formalize these disclosures.

While that commitment to disclosure has remained firm, I will admit to evolved thinking on another issue. Like many of those in my generation, I was initially strongly against any form of ghostwriting in the budding world of corporate blogging. If a post said it was coming from the CEO or CMO, it darn well better be coming from the CEO or CMO.

I’ve mellowed on that, though. Eventually, it became clear that these blog posts weren’t all that different from other C-level communications like bylined op-eds or shareholder letters which were often written by marketing teams and signed off on by their eventual “authors.” Not only am I more understanding of this being a common practice, I’ve done it myself.

What Are You Comfortable With?

It comes down to what sort of tactics you’re comfortable not only with signing off on but being held accountable for. Someone may not have a problem in theory with saying no, influencers don’t *need* to disclose how they’re being paid for creating marketing content. But when you explain how it can embarrass both the agency they work for and the client they’re working with, ultimately getting them fired for encouraging the violation of clear rules, one would hope their tune would change.

What’s been your core issue, the hill you’ve been willing to die on?

Instagram Introduces Celebrity Disclosure Tools, But Could Do More

Instagram is introducing a new system for celebrities and other influencers to clearly mark posts for which they’ve been paid as sponsored posts. The way it works is similar to a recent change by Facebook that involves tagging the sponsoring brand and adding the required disclosure.

This seems to be alright and it certainly makes sense for Instagram to follow the lead of corporate owner Facebook. But with so much discussion about how influencers of various stripes aren’t doing everything they need to be doing to meet disclosure guidelines, I’m surprised they didn’t take it further and adopt a different approach.

Specifically, I’m thinking here of something like Facebook Mentions, the app rolled out a couple years ago that was specially meant for celebrities, allowing them to post and interact in a different, more manageable environment than the main Facebook app. It was meant to provide different tools and engagement options that were designed for these power users to take more control of their fan interactions.

So what if Instagram introduced something similar? A separate app available only to select verified users could be specifically for their sponsored posts and automatically add the disclosure statement – a hashtag or whatever else – to those posts. It would take the process completely out of the person’s hands and put it in without them having to do so manually. Instagram could work with various regulatory agencies to make sure that it meets standards. There could even be additional features like the ability to add enhanced links or something like that to make the app even more attractive.

Of course, adoption would still be an issue. Support from the big influencer marketing hook-up agencies, the ones that connect brands with people looking to monetize their social following, would certainly help. That’s especially true if they made use of the app a requirement for people to participate in campaigns being managed.

Basically, I see this as a good first step but there’s more than can be done to really bring some order to this industry. By removing it as a manual action that needs to be actively taken each and every time, something like what I’ve proposed here could bring required disclosure closer to 100%, far from where it is now.