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Do I want to know if a social media post is sponsored? Of course, I do. I would almost feel lied to if I wasn't told. But the question of how or where I am told isn't as important to me.
If I want to know, I'll look for it- simple as that.
On a typical day of scrolling through my Instagram feed, I give little thought to each individual picture. To my dismay, "mindless scrolling" through feeds of content is a bad habit that I have succumbed to each day. I only stop and pay attention to content that catches my eye. This could be something that I find really interesting, new or sparks my curiosity. If one video or picture portrays my favorite celebrity wearing a bright purple face mask, it is almost guaranteed that I will read the caption. I use face masks and I would want to know her thoughts and critiques. I enjoy and purchase that one product so I will take the time to read the caption and learn details about it. In doing this, I would find if the post was sponsored.
The beauty of social media, Instagram in particular, is that it is so new and rapidly changing that there are no major rules or restrictions on what a brand must do or say in regards to their content. There are no guidelines like listing nutritional facts like on a can of soup or washing instructions on that come with every pair of clothing. Besides the general infrastructure and design of the site, there are no concrete expectations from consumers of the media. Whether you put the sponsorship pitch in at the end or beginning of a video or caption doesn't really matter. With sponsored content in such high abundance, most internet users who want to know if a post was sponsored will look for that hashtag or "shout-out".
I do think it would be a smart decision for companies who are trying to promote their brand through social media influencers to set their own guidelines for the promotion. If I had an influencer wearing my t-shirt in a YouTube video, I would want them to give me a shout-out at the beginning of the video to ensure all of their viewers heard about it. This makes more sense for the company of the product.
Until we have universal guidelines that say otherwise, I don't think the placement of a sponsorship notification should matter to the general, "mindless-scrolling", public.
Pearce Quesenberry, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Spring 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question:Does it matter where you tell your followers a post is sponsored content (I.e. the beginning of the post v. the end of the post)? Should it matter? Do people really even read through to the end of Instagram captions or watch through full YouTube videos or are they likely to miss the sponsorship statement?
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