Instagram is a strong social media platform that allows viewers to experience the individuality of different companies and products and helps users see one product being used by an array of settings by different Instagrammers. A strong component this app holds is that it can be utilized for both enjoyment and advertising. However, if Instagram is going to be simultaneously used this way, Instagrammers need to be transparent (even if they think their wording is clear) by using #ad or #sponsored to ensure that their viewers are fully aware that they are sponsored to share the product. If Instagrammers do not indicate when or if the post is a sponsored ad and I later find out that it was, I feel wronged by the company and am more reluctant to look at their ads or products.
Alternatively, if the Instagrammer is transparent by using #ad, I will be more willing to view the post and hear them out because I know they are being paid and it is my choice to listen or look at an ad.
As a current user of Instagram, I can speak to the respect I hold for those who use #ad or #sponsored; it shows that the Instagrammer is being open and honest. When I am in need of a product and want to know the best brand to use, I often turn to Instagram to see what others use and suggest. For example, I wanted to buy a new night cream for my face but, with so many brands available on the market, I turned to Instagram to see what some of my favorite celebrities are using. I went to an actor’s page and saw that she had recently done a live-stream video of her nightly routine; when she posted the individual products, I noticed that there was no #ad, which showed me that she promoted these products because she truly likes the brand and its results. However, during her time at Coachella last year, most of her posts were sponsored by H&M, which she indicated by using #H&Msponsored. It is important for me to have the people I follow be transparent in how they post because they are being paid for their posts. Although I do not doubt that she likes H&M, I trust her review on her facial products more because she was not being paid to post about them, she was simply posting because she loved the products.
Jessie Dvirnak, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Do Instagrammers really need to use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored? Isn’t that tacky? Can’t people tell that it’s sponsored content without them?