California-based company, Seed, which produces beautifully designed probiotic supplements, has recently started to require its social media influencers to pass an exam before they can endorse any of the company’s products. Following increasing concerns around social media influencers promoting health products like detox tea, celery juice and other diet fads they know nothing about, this couldn’t come at a more crucial time. The idea behind Seed University is to change the way influencers become involved with brands and make them more accountable. Seed wants its ambassadors to be highly educated on the products they are promoting and have made it a mandatory part of the marketing process. If the influencers don’t pass, then they can’t endorse the products. 

What is the course?

The influencers are required to take a free, six-unit course and then pass an exam at the end. The courses are available via Instagram Stories on the Seed University’s Instagram profile. A team of scientists, communication experts, and physicians helped develop the course, which is currently in beta. During the course, you learn about the science of probiotics and microbiomes as well as the products and the US Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines on promoting products, all in a fun and creative way. There are links, polls, emojis, videos and gifs in the Stories to make sure influencers would find it engaging. Seed hopes it will make brands think about how they discuss transparency and hopes it will inspire others to do something similar. Ara Katz, the co-founder of Seed, told AdWeek that “most companies keep that education behind the scenes because it often includes sales tactics. We wanted to make sure that everything was open-sourced. We wanted to build it on a platform like Instagram and democratize it.”Claire Fountain, an Instagram influencer, thinks programs like Seed University is important for the influencer community, who bear some weight of “social responsibility” in the products they advertise.
In addition to the Instagram course, influencers that pass the exam will have access to the scientists and experts to pose any questions they may have. This is the first of its kind and more brands should aim to educate their influencers in a similar way to leverage the credibility and ethical values that are much needed as the industry matures. 

Would you get influencers to pass an exam before endorsing your products? Let us know by commenting below.

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