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Lord & Taylor in trouble after hiding relationship with social media influencers

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Bloggers required to reveal biz partnerships

This past week, Google advised bloggers to disclose relationships when they were talking about products in exchange for freebies. In addition, when linking back to these businesses, bloggers were advised to add “no follow” links, because these links do not occur organically. In other words, businesses cannot send products to bloggers for free, expecting a link back to their website. It goes against Google’s policies.

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If that isn’t enough to make your business take notice, then you should probably be aware of what happened with Lord & Taylor. In 2015, the retailer sent out 50 dresses from its Design Lab line to “fashion influencers” who were then asked to post pictures of themselves wearing the dress during a specific 2-day period in March.

Lord & Taylor’s social media deception

These influencers were also paid an amount between $1,000 to $4,000. The agreement specified the instructions for referencing the clothes, but did not request that the bloggers identify their relationship with Lord & Taylor. The bloggers posted pictures without disclosing their “paid” promotion. It’s estimated that some 11.4 million saw the posts on Instagram in just 50 posts. None of the posts included an advertising disclosure. In fact, Lord & Taylor reviewed each of the posts before they went up on Instagram, and none of their employees thought to add it.

The FTC chimes in

The Federal Trade Commission determined that Lord & Taylor violated the FTC’s Act concerning prohibition against deceptive or unfair business practices. The FTC essentially sanctioned L&T and the two organizations reached a settlement in which L&T is required to disclose all paid advertising. It’s basically a slap on the wrist, reminding the retailer that it must obey the rules. In an email statement to the Consumerist, L&T denied that the company was attempting to deceive customers. It also stated that they had fully cooperated with the FTC’s investigation.

Reminding businesses to be above board

If you are using influencers as promoters for your business, you need to make sure you’re following the law. Make sure that they are disclosing any relationship, whether you are paying them or just providing free products. It’s good lesson to every business to follow the rules.

#FTCInfluencerCrackdown

Dawn Brotherton is a staff writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tom Augenthaler

    May 19, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Admittedly stupid on L&T’s part. Also wonder why the influencers didn’t think to post something too?

    I’m forever baffled why brands and influeners don’t post about their relationships with each other. It’s so simple — and honest.

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Business Marketing

How Snapchat earns over $1M a day on just one lil’ feature

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Marketers are jumping on the bandwagon, giving Snapchat more and more money – but what little feature rakes in so much cash!?

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snapchat 3d filters

Although Snapchat is still struggling to net a profit, they make a million dollars a day with branded AR lenses. If Snapchat can remain crazy popular with its users, this may help the company get out of its revenue slump.

Snapchat’s shares dropped 22 percent since their March IPO, and their Q3 earnings saw a revenue loss of $0.14 per share with the slowest user growth ever. But there’s still growth, and Snap has never really been profit focused anyways.

CEO Evan Spiegel certainly isn’t worried, publicly at least. Spiegel’s product strategies have been mirrored by Facebook and Instagram, and a huge chunk of teens prefer Snapchat over these other social media giants.

Which is why Snapchat can charge upwards of one million dollars a day for augmented reality lenses. Snap’s popularity, especially among teens and young adults with disposable income and social influence, bodes well with media agencies.

AR lenses are one of many features offered on Snapchat, allowing users to superimpose augmented reality images on pictures and videos. If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, the dancing hotdog is a testament to how easily an AR lens can turn into a meme.

In September, Snapchat introduced sponsored 3D World Lenses, giving advertisers the opportunity to feature targeted campaigns on the platform. Bladerunner 2049 was the first campaign at the launch, and since then Budweiser, BMW, and McDonalds have jumped on the bandwagon.

Pricing varies depending on when the lens goes live, if it’s a “premium” day like a holiday or anticipated movie release, and the targeting criteria of the agency. If a lens is specific to a region, for example, it’s not going to cost as much as a nationwide campaign.

In a report from Digiday, one NYC-based ad executive stated AR lenses are currently Snap’s most expensive ad product, and for some agencies it’s offered as a standalone purchase. Others reported Snapchat offered a “holistic media-buying plan,” including stickers and filters as well as AR lenses.

James Douglas, SVP and Executive Director of social media for Society explained Snapchat Ads are all about media negotiation, with some of his clients signing annual media contracts, while others may try out shorter stints.

“If it’s a well-known consumer packaged goods company, Snapchat may quote $200,000 for an AR lens, but not on a premium day,” he stated. “Snapchat is very flexible to negotiate media investments with agencies, and I like that.”

According to a Snapchat spokesperson, the base price for a 3D lens running up to 12 months is $300,000. However, the final price depends on if the lens is based on audience impressions or a national takeover on a premium day.

While the AR lenses are not necessarily driving sales for featured brands, users are completely engaged with lenses. Featured lenses are widely shared among users, and screenshots of particularly popular, interesting, or funny lenses end ups shared on other social media platforms.

Even if the lens is being mocked, that still leads to impressions since ultimately the ad is being spread when people send Snaps to friends and feature lenses in Snapchat Stories.

Right now, Snapchat is doing all the engineering for AR lenses. Agencies provide the ad assets and Snapchat creates the lens. Future plans involve opening up creation to select brands, as Spiegel announced in November.

Snapchat is testing a pilot program with Lens Studio, a self-service toolkit allowing advertisers to create their own lenses in as little as an hour. Eventually Snap plans on offering the AR toolkit to advertisers for free, but for now it’s only available to top clients.

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Business Marketing

Pantone’s 2018 color of the year (that you’ll see everywhere now): Ultra Violet

(MARKETING NEWS) Check out the Pantone color choice for 2018, and prepare to see it splashed across the internet and in print.

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pantone 2018

Much ado about a hue. Over the past year, Pantone encouraged us to reconnect with nature and once another through the promotion of Greenery, the fresh yellow-green color of 2017. It’s now time to take our personal and business potentials to a whole other level, as inspired by Ultra Violet, PANTONE 18-3838, which is the 2018 Color of the Year.

Now technically, Ultra Violet isn’t a shade of purple as the Pantone color square suggests. In fact, Ultra Violet is a spectrum of light waves that can’t be detected by the human eye in natural circumstances. But that’s kind of the point. Pantone purposefully selected this color to encourage inventiveness and imagination.

The color purple has long represented individuality and artistic expression. Think Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. When Ultra Violet was dubbed the iconic color of 2018, this symbolism was not overlooked. They are using Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple, to encourage individuals – and companies – to push boundaries and blaze their own trail.

Ultra Violet can have mystical and spiritual undertones, too. It’s been associated with mindfulness practices such as meditation, which can be a way to detach from today’s non-stop, information overloaded environment.

As a reflection of this new Color of the Year, we will likely see bright nail polishes, funky home décor, and vibrant fashion bring Ultra Violet into the marketplace. However, while material goods and designer’s color schemes are splashed with this dramatic shade of purple, Pantone encourages brands to use this color to inspire consumers to push for a better, and brighter future.

“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.

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Business Marketing

Which social media platform will dominate for marketing in 2018?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Which of the many social media networks will rule as the top social network marketing platform in 2018?

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social media sales engagement

If you’re still Tweeting to market your business or product, you’re way behind the curve.

Most social media influencers think Instagram is where it’s at, according to new research from content marketing firm Hashoff. A survey of 414 influencers in the business-to-consumer market found 93 percent of influencers focused a majority of their marketing efforts on Instagram this year and another 82 percent expect that to carry over to 2018.

Facebook is the secondary point of focus, as 16.5 percent of surveyed influencers devoted most of their time to timelines in 2017. However, after that, efforts fall below 5 percent for other major social networks such as Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.

So why the fondness for Instagram? Most social media influencers (76 percent) said Instagram has the best tools for creators among all the major platforms. It supports pictures and videos, live video streams, encourages consumer interaction and don’t forget about all the editing tools, rainbow face filters aside.

Some survey respondents (13.7 percent) also said Youtube is the best tool for content creators. While it hasn’t been a top focus for influencers over the past couple of years, use is trending upward. For example, in 2017, only 3.2 percent of influencers said Youtube is their No. 1 social media platform for marketing, but in 2018, that percentage is expected to jump to 12.2 percent.

While social media marketing efforts will always vary based on company type, product and content creation bandwidth, if you are starting to plan for 2018, keep tabs on these statistics. They can be a good indication of where consumers are viewing content, and if you are just starting out, knowing where marketing efforts are most worthwhile can save you time, energy and money.

Overall, consumers continue to be attracted to creative, visual representations of products and services, so take some more photos and save your word-based Tweets for another time.

Just because you have 280 characters to market your business doesn’t mean you have to use them. Give the people what they want.

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