How awkward is it when you run into someone wearing the same dress? Even more awkward when all your favourite bloggers are rocking the same outfit and each one has managed to break the law in the process.

Your social media feed is full of them: posts by ‘key influencers’ raving about their fabulous new bag/shoes/coffee shower scrub/green smoothie. What is not often clear is that they’ve all received the swag for free, and been paid to blog about it.

Recently US department store Lord & Taylor launched its new collection: Design Lab. In a wildly successful (but not so original) marketing campaign, the store engaged 50 popular fashion bloggers to post pics on Instagram of themselves in the same paisley print boho dress.

Although we have issues with the lack of creativity behind this campaign, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would have a bigger issue with it. Turns out, none of the bloggers let their followers know that Lord & Taylor provided them with the dress or that they had been paid to post the picture. As bloggers and social media are now very powerful in the advertising world, the fashion police are stepping in.

The FTC requires people paid to post on social media to disclose this fact in a “clear and conspicuous” way. This is also the case here in Australia. The ACCC’s guidance materials state that online reviews (which include promotions by bloggers) should be “transparent about commercial relationships”. The simplest way to do this is by including sexy (not) hashtags such as #ad or #sponsoredpost.

So, if you’re using the services of the increasingly powerful bloggersphere, just make sure your influencers are making it clear they’re getting paid to post.