Instagram recently asked its most popular users to clearly disclose every time they are paid to post about a product or brand on their social media profiles, and provided a tool for them to do so. Before this request, the FTC had sent a letter to 90 Instagram influencers reminding them to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose their relationships with brands. A recent study found that 93% of sponsored posts aren’t clearly disclosed, which means the influencer may place #ad in the midst of other hashtags or thank the brand in the caption.

For brands, this new system of disclosure could mean the end of amplified reach through influencers, as it does away with their perceived authenticity on Instagram. While brands should continue to use influencers because of their enormous reach, they should not ignore a more authentic source of brand advocacy. As consumers become more comfortable with sharing details of their lives on social media, they tend to share brands they use in their daily routines. For brands, this is a goldmine as 80% of consumers now trust online recommendations as much as personal recommendations, and seven in ten consumers leave a review when asked.

Furthermore, content generated by fans creates a more engaging browsing experience for visitors. L2 research finds that 29% of brands with on-site user-generated images experienced longer site visit times, more average pages per visit, and lower bounce rates than brands without.

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