Marketing Law: How Sponcon Could Destroy the Influencer Industry and Invite Legal Trouble

January 7, 2019

sponcon legal overview post Are you playing with legal fire by faking ads on your social media account? Let’s dive in.

“The more sponsors you have,” explained an aspiring social media influencer, “the more credibility you have.” Which raises the question: How is credibility gained? Answer: Faking it until making it. The practice is known as sponcon, and it could be ruining the online marketing industry. More than that, engaging in the practice could attract expensive legal trouble.

The Rise of Sponcon

Online marketing — especially influencer marketing — is a cut-throat business. Only the “hottest” accounts secure sponsors, plus more people are vying for a shot in the majors. But like any well-paying job, hiring brands want folks with previous experience. So how do gumshoes make names for themselves?  By faking ads.

In the hopes of being “discovered,” hopefuls regularly publish posts that emulate the language, look, and feel of professional social media advertisements.

How Sponcon Hurts Brands

At first thought, you may think that sponcon helps brands. After all: who wants to pay for advertising when it’s available for free!? Answer: Any serious brand that doesn’t want to invite a civil action.

That’s right: Sponcon can be a nightmare for companies. Here’s why.

  1. Brands spend good money on researching and perfecting marketing campaigns. Cohesive brand messaging is a cornerstone of effective marketing. Rogue fake ads do not help that effort and have the potential to inadvertently sabotage promotional campaigns.
  2. Online marketing rules apply. Lots of them. Even more pertinent: companies are responsible for the online promotional actions of brand affiliate marketers. In fact, even when businesses don’t hire influencers, but know of specific accounts hawking their wares for free, the courts could, theoretically, hold the brand responsible for any FTC no-nos committed by the poster. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. However, we can help make sure that doesn’t happen to you with a quick contract tweak and FTC audit.
  3. Brands loathe asking people to take down sponcon for fear of a retaliatory social media slagging.

How Sponcon Hurts the Influencer Industry: Fees Are On The Decline

Sponcon also depreciates the influencer market. After all, if people are giving away free advertising, then the value of said advertising diminishes, and then influencers across the board get paid less. In fact, word on the curb is that clout-seeking fake ads have significantly plunged sponsorship fees.

How Sponcon Can Get You in Legal Trouble

We mentioned it above, but it’s worth repeating: Sponcon can land you in legal trouble with the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer watchdog responsible for punishing parties that traffic in unfair and deceptive marketing tactics. Violations can include myriad things, from not correctly labeling ads to not properly wording assertions.

Connect With an Influencer Lawyer Today

Need to stop a rogue sponcon poster who’s targeted your brand? Has a company misidentified you as a sponcon-er and threatening legal action? Either way, we can help make the problem go away.

Truth is, we may not be the best firm for your needs, but the only way to figure that out is to get in touch. We’ll chat about your situation and map out a few options. If we’re not the right firm for your needs, we’ll point you in the direction of one that is.

Get in touch and let us know the best time to contact you so we can start solving.

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