The UK’s advertising regulator recently announced a watershed ruling against Instagram influencers that use image-altering filters while being paid to promote beauty products. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) determined that social media adverts containing filters that could exaggerate the results of the product being marketed to the audience were misleading, and that brands and influencers found in breach of this ruling moving forward would be removed and see both parties reprimanded.
It’s a necessary and welcome step, made possible by makeup artist Sasha Louise Pallari, who complained to the standards watchdog about two cases – both of which featured Instagram influencers using a skin-altering filter while being paid to demonstrate the benefits of a tanning product. Pallari simultaneously launched the #FILTERDROP movement to bring awareness to the distortion of filters on the platform and start a conversation about the ethics of promoting a beauty product while wearing one.
“Six months ago I spoke to the ASA about the damage of these filters as I felt there needed to be stricter guidelines around how products and cosmetics were advertised online,” Pallari wrote on her Instagram page of the landmark decision. “Today those rulings have been put in place and it’s because of this campaign… Going forward this means that every single time somebody promotes a skincare or beauty product online, we have the highest chance of seeing real skin, real texture, real nose shapes, different lip sizes, the true product colour. The amount of people that will no longer compare themselves to an advert that isn’t achievable without a filter is going to be prolific. We did it. I’m so proud.”
More than perhaps any other social media platform, Instagram has played an integral role in the recent boom of the beauty industry. Granted, YouTube made makeup tutorials and the talented creatives behind them a mainstream pastime, but it was Instagram that really infiltrated our bathrooms. It was the birthplace of countless cosmetic trends, from the ‘Insta brow‘ to the reverse French manicure and faux freckles, and cult brands like Glossier, Kylie Cosmetics and Summer Fridays found fame by using the app as their primary form of promotion.
But despite the proverbial cabinet doors it opened for both creatives and consumers alike, there’s always been an insidious element to the commercialisation of beauty content on Instagram. As the platform grew in popularity and Instagram personalities became trusted online identities, brands began to recognise its invaluable marketing potential by partnering with influencers to promote beauty products.
Unlike the glossy fashion magazines many of us grew up with, influencers seemingly offered a more trustworthy approach than traditional media. There was little to no regulation around what brands could do and the claims they could make, and influencers weren’t held to a code of ethics – which stood in stark contrast to the strict protocols placed on conventional publishers. For years, it was the Wild West of the advertising world and beauty brands – who have taken ample creative liberties in the marketing of products for decades – took full advantage.
Instagram allowed cosmetic companies to make candid advocates of popular influencers, playing into our desire to know exactly what products they use (cue: “heaps of you guys have been asking about my skincare routine!”). Many of these influencers wield immeasurable power when it comes to their audience’s purchasing decisions, which is significant when you weigh the millions of followers they have against the dwindling circulation figures of global magazines. They also offered brands a new opportunity to see an immediate, tangible return on investment.
But without regulation, the influencer marketing industry quickly became a shady space, where beauty companies could once again push an unattainable aesthetic to women. Yes, social media helped to democratise skincare, makeup and haircare products and practices to the public – anyone could now share their opinions, tips and tricks – but it also turned into a breeding ground for insecurity as we began to compare our looks and lives to others online.
After all, Instagram influencers – particularly those who dominate fashion and beauty feeds – trade in aspiration. But the commercialisation of Instagram resulted in an increasingly slick, uniform aesthetic driven by brand partnerships that looks suspiciously similar to the airbrushed pages of fashion magazines we claim to have rejected. This has inadvertently created a double-edged sword, where content creators are both victims and perpetrators in a system that ultimately benefits only the brands making money off our insecurities.
Thus, the authenticity that once attracted users to the platform has all but been eroded. On Instagram, appearing ‘perfect’ now feels like a prerequisite for the majority of female users. So when a beauty brand approaches an influencer to promote a skincare product, is it any wonder they don’t always feel comfortable sharing their unfiltered face on the grid – particularly as it pertains to content that’s devised to appear as enticing as possible? Comparison is a trap also experienced by the influential, without factoring in the trolling and derision public recognition can attract.
Don’t get me wrong. We aren’t trying to absolve individual influencers of blame entirely when it comes to promoting unrealistic beauty standards, as there have been innumerable examples of deliberate deception at play (Kendall Jenner slinging whitening charcoal toothpaste whilst appearing to have veneers comes to mind). It’s damaging, it’s unethical and holding this behaviour to account is an imperative step towards rebuilding transparency on social media. However it’s important to acknowledge the surreptitious eco-system within which this conduct has been able to thrive.
This important ruling will no doubt put beauty influencer conduct under long overdue scrutiny, but they aren’t the only villains here. Beauty brands need to stand behind their products without resorting to manipulative marketing techniques, and set the standard by ensuring that their paid testimonials come with strict stipulations against appearance-altering filters. Encouraging their ambassadors to drop the filter and share their real experience in the age of the poreless #skinfluencer will only serve to benefit both the creator, their following and the industry at large.
LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August
Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?
This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.
As per LinkedIn:
“As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.”
LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.
Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:
- Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
- Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
- Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
- Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
- Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
- Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
- Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
- Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
- Learning Python with Joe Marini
- Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
- Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
- Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
- Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
- Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
- SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
- Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
- Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
- Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
- Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
- Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.
Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.
The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.
Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …
Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.
Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.
Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.
Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.
Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.
Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.
— Yash Joshi (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021
5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android
Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.
You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).
You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.
While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.
We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.
Credit: buffer / app store
Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.
Credit: preview / app store
Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.
Credit: content office / app store
An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.
Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.
Credit: plann / apple store
You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…
Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.
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