Instagram & Celebrity Promotions

Instagram & Celebrity Promotions

It seems like nowadays, almost everyone our age follows at least a couple of celebrities on Instagram, Twitter, or some other type of social media platform. They provide us regular folk with a chance to get an entertaining glance into their dramatic lives, and there are often opportunities for funny new memes to arise. And also, they introduce us to a multitude of new products and services that we never knew we (did not) need in our lives.

As it turns out, the world of marketing through celebrity promotions on Instagram and other social media platforms is a lot more complicated that I feel like most people probably believe them to be.

This all started when my roommates and I were discussing the Bachelor episode last week. We had gotten on to the topic of how former Bachelor contestants who become famous enough to be considered “public figures” seem to have an endless array of products they promote on their Instagram accounts. From sunglasses to tequilas to fashion, their sponsored posts seemed endless. For some of these former contestants, there are so many of these posts that they seem to turn their accounts into nothing more than a series of promotional advertisements. And it made me think, why would anyone want that for himself or herself? The obvious answer, of course, is money.

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But as I looked into this phenomenon some more, I became increasingly shocked by my discovery of the amount of money that some of these so-called “celebrities” are able to make from doing nothing more than pressing a few buttons on their iPhones. Essentially, promoting products through social media can become their main source of income. That was a realization that I found incredibly interesting, albeit also concerning at the same time. Because while this all seemed pretty cool to some degree, there was something about the scale of it that bothered me too.

First of all, the amount of money public figures can make through a single Instagram post is a little absurd, in my opinion. As told in the article here, Guess How Much…,an Instagram account that has three-to-seven million followers can charge as much as $75,000 per endorsement on Instagram or Snapchat, and a celebrity with 50,000-to-500,000 followers might make $1,000 for a post on Instagram or Snapchat.

This type of advertising has been around social media for a long time now, but I had never before taken a look at the numbers behind this type of business strategy. And it looks like it really is the highlight of low costs with high returns. After all, paying a public figure $1000 to tell 500,000 people about your product is a relatively cheap but still extremely widespread marketing effort. The rewards for a business to implement this strategy well can truly be enormously large.

I then also took a look into how there are actually a variety of legal issues that have been intertwined with celebrity promotions and their potentially unclear messages to consumers. Subtlety, in this context, is not at all a good thing. For example, the article “FTC to Crack Down on Paid Celebrity Posts That Aren’t Clear Ads” (FTC to Crack Down…) discusses how celebrities raving about various consumer products on their personal social media accounts can quite easily attract the Federal Trade Commission’s attention. Since these social media posts are oftentimes unclear about whether or not the celebrity was paid for his or her endorsement of the product, issues of consumer deception and deceptive advertising can arise. For example, Lord & Taylor got into trouble with the FTC after Instagram posts the company had paid fashion influencers to create failed to disclose in the posts that the company had paid and given these people the products for free in exchange for the marketing. The reason this is so important is because the influence of public figures is immense, and it is necessary to ensure that their influence over so many people is not being taken advantage of. Fans often take what a celebrity says to be 100% truth, and therefore, a little extra consumer protection is necessary. After all, the FTC has, found that when consumers know that a celebrity has been paid and given a product for free, that knowledge alters the public perception of that social media post. It is, unfortunately, true that better disclosure about advertising would almost certainly make the posts less impactful on consumers – and therefore, companies may have a strong incentive to keep their celebrity social media advertisements more ambiguous than regulators would like. This is just one example of the many legal problems involved in this matter.

Overall, it would seem that there is a lot more going on with celebrity product endorsements on social media than I had originally thought. I know that I will definitely be giving future ads a second look now.


  1. I have such mixed feelings about the fact that celebrity advertising has become such a huge thing. It’s such a clever way for companies to align their brand with a celebrity personality. However, at a certain point, it seems unfair that celebrities are using their “coolness” and “popularity” to advertise on a personal social media platform. Advertising has become a lot sneakier in the past years and the ways in which companies are seeping into the subconscious of consumers’ minds is frightening.

  2. Really interesting take on the legal aspects of this issue. It will be interesting to see how the FTC goes about trying to enforce any new regulations, especially given how individual content on social media has yet to be strictly censored, even in the case of fake or slanderous news. I wonder if there is any legal precedent for the FTC to regulate celebrities’ private and personal social media accounts.

  3. Great post! While the use of celebrities to endorse products on social media has definitely become a growing trend within marketing, its interesting to see that “normal” people with tons of social media credibility are also getting some time in the spotlight with certain brands. Definitely going to have to keep an eye on how this marketing strategy evolves over time and how it gets further regulated.

  4. I tend to check out product reviews on YouTube before making large purchases and it can definitely be a challenge to figure out if the person was paid for the video or not. Especially when someone who is already trusted by the community starts to endorse products, I know I think twice before I take them at their word again. With that said, I guess it wouldn’t ultimately stop me from following that person. Great post!

  5. This is a topic that has fascinated me since I first discovered that celebrities get paid to simply post things on social media. One thing I will say, and this is not justifying some of the outrageous fees that celebrities charge, but I do think that part of what we discount is what it takes to be able to charge fees for what you post. I’m sure they have to actively cultivate an image that is “cool, trendy, hip, etc.” which might require a lot of time, work, and money behind the scenes in order to attract marketing companies looking to pay celebrities. Obviously that’s true for some celebrities more than others.

  6. I had wondered why celebrities often use the hashtag “#sponsored” or “#ad” on their Instagram posts. I didn’t realize it had to do with the FTC, necessarily, but that makes perfect sense. After all, I am sure many viewers of the Bachelor will believe that Sugar Bear Hair supplements will actually give them longer hair and not put two and two together that just about every former contestant on the show who has made some traction in the media advertises this product. I also can’t believe how much celebrities get paid for the endorsements. Great topic!

  7. lenskubal · ·

    Promoting products through social media can seem like a brilliant marketing idea, but at times, I agree, tis practice can be bothersome. This type of profession can create unbelievable amounts of pressure on the user. I had no idea these social media stars were making that much money. That is incredible. Advertising has certainly evolved over the years, and I think we are going to see a lot move of this in the future.

  8. CarbNatalie · ·

    So this topic has been of particular interest to me as of late because part of me is like “sign me up” and the other part of me is like “why in the world don’t these people work?” because in all true reality I couldn’t really consider this a “job” because they do not do anything in order to receive these items and post about them to get paid besides doing just that. In a sense these ‘celebs’ have created the admiration that surrounds them. However, I do somewhat have an appreciation for some, specifically bloggers who utilize this as a passion project and have turned themselves into brands rather than the average ex-Bachelorette, because they serve as a source of street style which incorporate and promote more affordable options and they are seriously kick-a** marketers for making it to the level of having their own brands (shout out to Sincerely Jules and Peace Love Shea, two of my favorites that have a whole fashion brand and a swimwear line, respectively).

  9. Caila Quinn (Bachlorette) was my student at BC her freshman year. Very nice person. I did often wonder why she did it to herself, but she is one of those people who can be a celebrity for celebrity’s sake and make a liiving off of it. Why not, I guess, if you manage it correctly.

  10. mollyshields44 · ·

    I think celebrity endorsements are an interesting aspect of a brand’s marketing. I have read articles that question the effectiveness of having a famous person support our brand. Many times, brands pay a lot of money to have celebrities become the speaker for their brand, but in the end people do not remember which celebrity supports which brand. I think this idea of endorsements losing effectiveness is more prevalent with famous actors, singers, etc. than it is with influencers. With the case of influencers, people are purposefully looking towards them for advice and may take their opinion more seriously. Definitely an interesting topic for a brand to consider when looking to promote their products.

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