Social Media is hard. It’s crowded and everyone is fighting for attention. One way to try and reach a large group of people is to hire a celebrity or personality and leverage their social media profiles to generate sales, this works especially well when the celebrity loves and already uses your product/service. We had the opportunity to work with one such celebrity, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. We will show you what we did and the results we achieved, but first, some basics.

Do Celebrity Endorsements works?

Yes. Don’t believe me, just ask the organizers of the disaster known as the Fyre Festival. What this failed event showed us is that social media endorsements from celebrities are a powerful way to boost impressions and sales. It also succeeded in bringing legal issues with celebrity endorsements on social media to light in the public eye. In March of 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out nearly 100 letters reminding celebrities to “clearly and conspicuously” identify their financial interest in promotional posts about products on their social media pages. The letter’s pointed to sample Instagram posts making endorsements or referencing brands. The FTC isn’t able to predetermine whether the brand mention was in fact sponsored, as opposed to an organic mention, but the FTC nonetheless is starting to monitor social media advertising.

How to Not Get Sued?

The FTC is very clear on how it treats endorsements and testimonials,
“even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser.” The FTC treats “endorsements and testimonials identically in the context of its enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission Act.”
What does this mean for you? That whether a celebrity really loves your product or not, if there is an exchange of money, the FTC considers this a paid advertisement and must be disclosed. in 2016, Lord & Taylor settled FTC charges that it paid influencers in the fashion world to promote its clothing. Lord & Taylor had significant control over these posts contractually. Lord & Taylor paid around 50 influencers between $1,000 and $4,000 each to post a photo of themselves wearing their products on Instagram and other social media sites. Under FTC policy, each violation of this nature can result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000. You do the math, it could have resulted in a pretty heavy fine. The FTC put out a very handy press release to accompany those celebrity letters, which you can read here.

What not to do?

The purpose of the FTC is to prohibit “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce.” With this in mind, it isn’t too hard to ensure you’re following the rules. If something seems deceptive, it probably is. The FTC provides several examples to help you understand their rules and guidelines. FILL IN WITH DO NOTS!

Building a Winning Celebrity Endorsement Strategy

Capitalizing on a celebrity’s fame and fan base are not new concepts by any means. What has changed over time is the placement of these paid advertisements and how people are using celebrities. The traditional way to use a celebrity was to film a commercial and run that tirelessly on television. Now with sites like YouTube and Vimeo, everyone can broadcast a clip or recording.

What Works?

Running an advertising campaign with a testimonial can still work but it isn’t as powerful as creating something unique, fun, and viral. Here’s our formula (whether this works for you depends on several factors but this has worked for us)
  1. Create overall marketing campaign
  2. Build hashtags and ways to organize the conversations that will be happening online
  3. Target all platforms since people see something on Instagram and will share it on Facebook, etc.
  4. Use your celebrity in a fun and unique way (hint: people love surprise videos)
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