Grant for project on the regulation of social media influencers
Sofia Ranchordas (University of Groningen) and Catalina Goanta (Maastricht University) have been awarded a Flexible Grant for Small Groups by the Independent Social Research Foundation (UK) for their project “DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Marketing: Regulating Social Media Influencers’.
The award (GBP 5,000) is destined for the completion of a paper and the organization of a workshop on ‘Influencer Marketing’. This research project aims to shed light on the regulatory challenges of a current social media trend that has received little attention from the academic literature: ‘influencer marketing’. Influencer marketing has been recently featured in multiple business journals and magazines (e.g., Forbes, Medium, Harvard Business Review) as a new branding trend ‘essential for any business’.
Digital influencers are typically social media users who start out as anonymous citizens but who reach stardom with self-made visual content (e.g., Nikkie de Jagger). Given their large audiences, influencers are very effective not only at creating online engagement for the companies that employ their services, but also at manipulating their followers’ opinions. Although advertisement regulations include endorsements made on Instagram or Youtube by social media influencers, they often disregard these regulatory limits. This is highly problematic as average social media users are at an ever-greater risk of falling prey to inconspicuous advertising practices. Drawing on insights from different strands of the legal, media studies, and marketing literature, this project examines the limitations of the current regulatory framework applicable to influencer marketing, and explores how this framework can be adapted to take into account both consumer and commercial interests.
Flexible Grants for Small Groups (FG4) awards enable one or more short periods of face-to-face joint group work such as workshops, working-in-pairs, or short academic visits over a period of up to one year. The Independent Social Research Foundation is a London-based foundation dedicated to the promotion of groundbreaking interdisciplinary research.
Sofia Ranchordas is Chair of European and Comparative Public Law and Rosalind Franklin Fellow since October 2017 at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. Catalina Goanta is Assistant Professor of Private Law at Maastricht University and Niels Stensen Fellow for the academic year of 2018/2019.
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