How not to deal with influencers

You may or may not have seen the (now deleted) tirade from boutique B&B The Reading Rooms in Margate, who snapped at influencer Estee Lalonde for taking photos in her hotel room without crediting the location or having a commercial shooting agreement in place.

But what exactly happened, and how can SMEs learn from it? If you missed it, here’s the story in brief.

Estee did what any beauty influencer, or indeed anyone in the 21st century, would do, and posted a selfie on a weekend holiday with her clothes and make-up tagged.

The original post

The original post

For The Reading Rooms, this was an advert for the brands and, as such, Estee should have paid a fee to take the photo in the hotel room.

“So @EsteeLalonde 'influencer' and @LancomeUK Brand Ambassador stayed. No location fee, tag or permission,” the first tweet began.

Response from The Reading Rooms

Response from The Reading Rooms

The hotel went on to report Estee to the Advertising Standards Authority for not tagging the post as an advert, despite the influencer pointing out that she was on a private holiday and the post had not been paid-for or requested by Lancôme or any other tagged company. The influencer then blocked the hotel brand, which led to more comments from the B&B.

But, as you, I and anyone who has seen the internet may have expected, the fans clapped back.

How the public reacted

How the public reacted

And so on and so forth.

Which takes us to when Estee posted about the situation.

"Hey Twitter! 👋🏼 I’ve recently been accused by a hotel of using their space as a studio when actually I was just on a weekend holiday. So great to see the internet community using their common sense and seeing this for what it is.

“If I ever get paid to promote something I use #ad and disclose it. Just because you tag a brand doesn’t make something an ad. The irony about this whole thing is that I promote small businesses all the time but in this case they removed all chances of that due to their behaviour,” Estee continued.

Finally, after an epic amount of feedback, The Reading Rooms deleted its posts and apologised.

Apology from The Reading Rooms

Apology from The Reading Rooms

But what does this mean for brands on social? It pretty much acts as a case study of how not to deal with influencers. Like seriously, take everything that The Reading Rooms did, and do the opposite.

But to sum it up, here’s the learnings in five nugget-sized takeaways.

-Influencers (and, heck, humans in general) don’t have to tag a hotel, shopping centre, or where you are, in a photo, unless the venue is paying them to promote it. They can if they want to, but it’s not a necessity

-If an influencer does use your venue, and you want to promote the fact, don’t harass the person. Ask the person if you can share the content, yes, but don’t throw your toys out the pram if they say no

-Don’t forget the GDPR. New privacy laws are coming in soon, and calling out visitors (and their room number, as The Reading Rooms did in one tweet) is pretty much not good for privacy

-Get your facts right before you publicly accuse anyone of anything. Actually, this isn’t just for influencers, it works for everything

-Always expect the internet to have a strong response. Doesn’t matter if you’re saying the sky is blue, or something more controversial. But if you are rude to an influencer, you will get a whole heap of pain back. Just don’t do it