We’re accustomed to scrolling past perfectly placed avocado on toast and outfit of the day pictures a plenty, but are we used to seeing our favourite influencers disclose when they’ve been paid to post on behalf of a brand? No? Well, we should be.
Being an influencer comes with a responsibility, just like any other job, which is why the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have created an updated guide for social influencers and brands.
We’re keen to make sure that all influencers, creators and ambassadors are aware and compliant of the regulations and guidelines. You can read them in full here.
The guide itself is over 18 pages long but here it is in a few digestible bullet points:
- What counts as an ad?
Everything from paid-for ad space such as banner ads, paid-for search results and those ‘sponsored/paid promotion’ posts that you’re seeing on your Insta feed. Believe it or not, even if you’re posting about your own products/services such as an event you’re hosting, or a giveaway, it is considered an ad. Affiliate links such as ‘swipe-up to purchase’ in stories or affiliate links in blog posts/websites are also ads according to CAP.
- As an influencer, how do you know if your content is an ad?
If you’ve been paid, either in monetary value or in the form of products/freebies and the brand in question have an element of control i.e. asking you to post at a certain time or stipulating what you say in your caption then yes, my friend, you’ve got yourself an ad. To summarise, CAP requires both payment and control in order for the content to constitute being an ad.
- Now that you’ve identified it’s an ad, how do you disclose it to your followers?
In an ideal world, CAP would like all influencers to state #AD at the start of their caption. Yep, at the start, not included in a mass of irrelevant #picoftheday #lfl hashtags, they want it nice and clearly stated at the beginning BEFORE people engage. Alternatively, social platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have made it super easy to disclose your ad to your followers thanks to the ‘paid partnership with…’ tag which you can spot under the influencer’s name on a sponsored IG post or the ‘includes paid promotion’ pop-up on YouTube videos. If you’re not keen on this, you can stick to ‘I’m working with’ or ‘in association with’ or ‘thanks to … for sponsoring this post’ in your caption however the basic rule is it must be obvious before a follower engages with it.
- Is there anything else I should know?
Yes, you should know that the claims you’re making about the product/brand in your post are actually true. Is that detox tea going to give your followers a dodgy tummy? Is this really the best full coverage foundation you’ve ever used? Are you old enough to promote an alcohol brand, not just old enough to drink it? In a nutshell, be able to back-up everything you say because let’s face it it’s 2018 and people ask questions, lots of questions…
So there you have it folks, the rules and regulations that influencers need to follow, but what happens if they don’t?
What happens if there’s not a #sp or paid partnership with… in sight? It’s pretty simple, you can report influencers, yes even your favourites, to the ASA so that they can investigate the issue further. If it turns into a formal investigation i.e. if you’ve caught out an influencer for not abiding by the rules, then they will make a final decision and may even issue a sanction via the CAP’s compliance team.
In a nutshell, if you’re an influencer be sound, let your followers know that you got a pretty penny for the post because let’s face it, in today’s society it’s pretty cool to get free shit/be paid by a brand JUST LET THE PEOPLE KNOW!
And be warned if you think this is all a lot of hot air and nobody will take any notice just look at this recent example regarding a post from Love Island star Olivia Buckland