There’s nothing new about using celebrities to endorse a product.

The only real innovation through the years has been the medium through which to send their message, no matter how thin it was.

Initially, wafer-thin would’ve been an apt description. Baseball players, for example, would allow their images to be used on trading cards issued by tobacco companies.

honus wagner t206 baseball card Not only were these popular then, some — like this Honus Wagner T206 — have now become valuable assets in their own right, with the Wagner card being the Holy Grail for collectors:

  • Only 200 T206’s were ever produced, and
  • This mint-condition card is now worth over $3million.

Wagner is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so there is gravitas to the value, but for our purposes, there’s even more in the fact that he never smoked.

Tobacco companies ultimately paid celebrities for endorsements where they actually used the product, often making outrageous claims:

marlene dietrich ronald reagan rock hudson cigarette ads

Ultimately, it fell to the Federal Trade Commission to regulate truth in advertising, and one of its prime directives is to ensure the public understands the relationship between a product and the celebrity who’s endorsing it.

Fast-forward to the 21st century:

The mot du jour in marketing these days bundles endorsers from all categories into influencers.

influencer types

For those who aspire to become a part of this crowd, celebrity can be the most attainable category to achieve.

Getting there can be quite rewarding, especially on Instagram.

instagram girls

For e-commerce entrepreneurs looking to gain traffic via social platforms, Instagram has proven to be both quick and effective in generating real visitors.

It’s provided such a fast track for attracting traffic to a site that courses are popping up all over, offering to show the way for $47 and up, not counting upsells.

Frankly, if you’re into learning this technique, you can find many of the techniques for free.

Retainer prices for celebrities mentioning your site and/or service on their Instagram feed feature services for everyone, from established entrepreneurs to those on limited budgets. For example:

  • A-listers like Angelina Jolie will charge from $100 to $700; while
  • Those famous-for-being-famous wannabes will agree to $5-$10 runs.

Don’t discount the ones who are emerging, either. Many of them are gaining sizable followings.

On the high end, this practice has become such big business — Selena Gomez now charges and gets up to $500,000 for one multi-platform ad — that the Federal Trade Commission has decided to drop a hint.

It’s recently notified the Top 90 influencers that it wants to see a clear disclosure about their relationship to the brands they’re mentioning.

Here’s the sort of practice being targeted, where the hashtag #sp doesn’t definitively identify that the celebrity’s innocuous comment about a product is a sponsored mention:

jenny mccarthy instagram

Here’s what the FTC wants to see in a hashtag:

laura sykora instagram

The FTC’s not too keen on coyness, either, terming hashtags such as #thanks and #partner as ambiguous and thus unsatisfactory.

Take a look at the number of likes in those examples. It’s beyond question that retaining Instagram influencers is a smart way to attract and grow visitors to your site. Just make sure they follow standard practices when mentioning your product and/or service.

The last thing you need is any possibility of blowback by association if they don’t.

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