It doesn’t take a social media analyst to know that much of what we’re seeing on our Instagram feeds in sponsored. The reasoning behind it is simple. If you’re a successful influencer and entrepreneur with millions of followers, why not make some extra cash by hitting “upload,” right? Kim Kardashian doesn’t shy away from doing so, and spotting a paid-for post is easy: Just look out for #ad.
But not everyone is into this game. For beauty blogger and businesswoman Huda Kattan, of beauty site and company Huda Beauty, working with a brand on a sponsored post isn’t so black and white. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Kattan explains how followers can quickly sniff out the BS. “I don’t like to force content. If it doesn’t feel right, there’s no way in hell I’m going to do it. If it’s fake, you’re going to know it in my face,” she says. “If I don’t really have a certain beauty concern, I’m going to be lying, and it just won’t work.”
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After leaving her career in finance, she’s made a living out of her Instagram account—it boasts 24.8 million followers—plus Huda Beauty. Last fall, she launched a makeup product designed to double as an Instagram filter: #FauxFilter Foundation ($40; sephora.com). Regularly, she shares photos, videos, and blog posts that she says come from an authentic place. Her own beauty qualms are where her ideas stem from.
Interestingly, though, it’s not the bling that she’s in this for. In fact, Kattan’s focus is on delivering real content. “I’m not looking to directly monetize our Instagram. Directly being able to do shoppable links—when that happens, sure, why not? But now, I don’t want it to feel like it’s not real,” she told Entrepreneur.
She turned down a major sponsorship opportunity because, funnily enough, Oprah inspired her.
“Once, I got offered $185,000 to do one post, and I was so close to doing it—I genuinely loved the product. We were just about to post it, and my team was like, ‘This is the caption,’ with ‘#ad.’ I just couldn’t do it,” she said, explaining that while the money would have helped her and her husband, she wasn’t comfortable with it.
“I thought about Oprah. I was like, would Oprah do that? No, she wouldn’t. Luckily, my husband was able to support our family financially, so we didn’t have to,” she said.
Let’s try this again: #Oprah2020, anyone?