If commercials need disclaimers, then so do IG posts

Feb 15, 2018

Student | Jiawen He

Instagram has grown into one of the most popular social networks worldwide. There is an increasing number of companies and organizations use Instagram as a channel to promote their product and services through Instagram influencers. It is important for the Instagrammers to state that their contents are advertisements by using hashtags like #ad and #sponsored.

The audiences can tell if the content created by the Instagrammer is an advertisement. However, their Instagrammers still need to state clearly that their contents are not created originally by themselves, but through a commercial perspective. Sometimes advertising content could be biased, and an influencer's followers need to understand that the post's contents support the sponsor's intention. It is a responsibility for the influencer to tell that this content is a piece of advertisement to their followers. Any biased statement related to the product and content has to deal with the sponsor. Having these hashtags is like when we are watching the processed food TV commercial, or looking at a food package in that we don't expect the actual product to appear the same as it is shown in the marketing photos. However, most of these commercials have a statement like "only for demonstration," or "the actual product may appear differently in the picture." Instagram posts should have the same disclaimer.

It could be a contractual obligation between an Instagrammer and their sponsor that they have to use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored in their posts. The ultimate purpose of having this hashtag is to have more people see it. For example, when an Instagram user who is a gan of a certain brand searches for the hashtag that has the brand name in it, he or she will see the content created by a certain influencer with the hashtag. The followers of such Instagrammer will have a better understanding of the brand that he or she has promoted. Its good for both Instagrammers and the brand, and they both would have larger social media coverage. The Instagrammer will make the brand look better virally. The brand will fund the Instagrammer to grow bigger and produce better content.

The hashtags like #ads and #sponsored are necessary. They are beneficial for both the brands and the Instagrammer. Having these hashtags are a responsible behavior towards the followers as well.


Jiawen He, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Spring 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question:Do Instagrammers really need to use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored? Isn't that tacky? Can't people tell that it's sponsored content without them?

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