Take a quick scroll through your Instagram feed. You're most likely following countless fashion bloggers and influencers, who, in some way or another, have an impact on your style choices and buying behavior. But as The Fashion Law reports, the rise of the so-called "fashion influencer" has also led to a "significant spike . . . in advertising law violations."
By law, it is required that social media posts that are "sponsored"—i.e., a result of a direct partnership between a brand and an influencer—must openly disclose that they are, in fact, ads. But as The Fashion Law also points out, several influencers reveal this information in a very covert way, and some fail to disclose it entirely, both of which violate the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Oftentimes, bloggers may covertly reveal that a post has been paid for by a brand in the hopes of making it appear more "authentic" to their followers. But according to Rachel Zeilic, associate VP of talent at Clique, this "branded content" can, in fact, appear authentic if the influencer only accepts a product or service they would actually use in their everyday life.
"It's best for both the brand, as the authenticity of their influencer's endorsement will shine through, as well as the influencers, who always want to deliver valued content and maintain a relationship of trust with their audience," Zeilic explains.
Following these disclosure rules is not always easy. "The biggest challenge is keeping abreast of the rules, which are constantly changing," Zeilic says. "Most influencers are working either by themselves or in a very small team, and everyone has to wear a lot of different hats. There is no 'legal department,' so to speak, helping with compliance as there would be at say a traditional magazine."
In an effort to highlight the bloggers who are abiding by federal advertising laws (and those who may not be doing such a good job), The Fashion Law compiled a list of the 25 most influential Instagram stars, ranking them from exemplary—those who "boasted the highest percentage of properly disclosed posts"—to least commendable. Read on to see which four influencers nabbed the top spots, and then head to The Fashion Law to check out the full report.