Time was when Instagram was a harmless photo filter app. Now it’s a major marketing tool and the app of choice of billions of people who are fond of showing off their amazing lives. It’s the reason why “influencers” (people with a smartphone, an internet connection, and a lot of followers and get paid to endorse products) exist.
There are tons of them on Instagram. And they don’t always do right by their followers and, sometimes, by the feds.
The copyright infringers
The paparazzi make money off celebrities primarily by selling their photographs to various media outlets. Thanks to Instagram, the papz have a new income generation scheme.
The scam: the papz shoot sometimes-flattering photos of A-list celeb, celeb post photo[s] on Instagram, photographer files a copyright infringement lawsuit against the celeb, celeb settles.
Jessica Simpson is one of many who was sued for having the audacity to post a photo of herself on Instagram. Other celebrities then followed suit, perhaps for the heck of it.
You’d think stars like Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, Jessica Simpson, Liam Hemsworth, and Ariana Grande would wise up, but there seems to be no stopping the scheme anytime soon.
Re-posting a photo of yourself that someone else has taken would only make sense if you only have, say, 500 followers or fewer. But if you have millions, you are essentially destroying the livelihood of hardworking creatives who make a decent earning photographing reluctant subjects.
Nobody said that the legal system is 100% sane.
The influencer who did not influence enough
Promoting luxury products on Instagram must be one of the easiest jobs, ever. Getting paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote something such as eyewear should be a piece of cake. But some influencers need to go back to influencer school and earn a degree.
PR Consulting, the public relations firm of Snap Inc, the company that created Snapchat, Spectacles eyewear, and Bitmoji, sued actor, producer, and it-boy Luka Sabbat on an Instagram-related case. According to the company’s lawsuit, Luka — who had 1.4 million followers at the time — failed to deliver in an Instagram brand-sponsorship deal.
Mr. Sabbat was paid $60,000 to promote the company’s brand of eyewear by posting a series of Instagram feed posts and stories but failed to deliver said content and perform other promised promotional activities. He also refused to give the payment back for marketing services unrendered.
We guess that typing two sentences with hashtags and posting a photo on Instagram required an enormous amount of energy that Mr. Sabbat simply did not possess.
Fair warning to aspiring influencers: have a bit of content marketing knowledge or hire a team that can make your Instagram sponsored content look casual and spontaneous.
There are courses you can take for that…
The Instagram Influencer Marketing faux-fessor
Because influencer marketing is indeed lucrative, it’s not shocking that some influencers have come up with the brilliant idea to conduct influencer master classes.
Core to Instagrammer Aggie Lal’s “How to grow your Instagram” curriculum are golden bits of wisdom in the areas of social media techniques, photography, video classes, and lessons about the “behind the scenes of going from being a broke traveler to becoming a six-figure earning travel blogger.”
How could anyone with an Instagram account and a dream resist that?
Ms. Lal’s 12-week course was sold for $500, netting her a total of $180,000. But alas, many of the scholars who signed up for the course were dismayed. “Underwhelming content,” “offensive comments toward students,“ “lack of communication with students,” and most precious of them all: asking her students to sell her course to their own followers, were some of the complaints.
For the Instagram-uninitiated, it may be difficult to spot a scam. But know this: “influencer marketing” is an entire industry and getting your marketing education from a lady whose credentials consist of expertly staring off into the distance in faux casual poses is a surefire way to get scammed.
You may not add Seattle attorneys Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams on Instagram (because we don’t have an account), but you may add our contact details on your phone. It will come in handy should you ever need experienced, dedicated, and personal family law and personal injury lawyers.