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Influencers face the law on social media transparency

Influencers face the law on social media transparency

On 23rd January 2019 the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s governing body for fairness in the consumer market place, announced that 16 celebrities have committed to being clearer and more transparent about what products or services they have been paid to endorse.

These 16 celebrities include many high-profile names like models Alexa Chung and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, singers Rita Ora and Ellie Goulding, and social media stars and vloggers Zoella and Jim Chapman.

The commitments are designed to reinforce the need for all social media influencers to be open and honest about the products they endorse and promote on their channels and clamp down on dishonest and misleading advertising.

Advertising standards legislation already covers the need for clarity around paid endorsements, but up to now these rules have been only vaguely understood and applied in the lucrative world of the digital influencer.

The 16 celebrities endorsing the crack-down are largely taking part to make amends (and avoid prosecution) for the many past misdemeanours regarding paid promotion on their channels, highlighting the CMA’s much stricter new approach.

What does this mean for influencer marketing?

Influencers need to be unequivocally clear when it comes to freebies, paid promotions, and relationships with brands or businesses.

They need to say if a product has been given to them for free, whether that’s gifted out of the blue or requested by the influencer, and clearly state when something is a promotion, such as a post offering discounts or giveaways.

An influencer’s relationship with a brand also needs to be made very clear, whether current or in the recent past. Even having worked with a brand 6 months ago needs conveying if you’re promoting their products again under your own volition.

Transparency is key

The aim is to always be completely clear and never mislead followers and viewers. Make it easy to understand what is being promoted, and don’t leave room for ambiguity.

Influencers need to use existing structures such as Instagram’s paid partnership tool, or descriptors like ‘advertising feature’ or #advert at the top of their posts, conveying messages simply and clearly.

“It’s about being honest about working with brands and providing genuine content. We will always advise our clients to work with authentic influencers who responsibly follow guidance provided by the CAP and ASA.”

Lizi Legge, Social Media Manager

Give us a call and speak to our social and campaign experts in the Content & Communications team if you have any concerns about influencer marketing for your brand or business.

The CMA has published guidance for influencers on how to better follow advertising standards and avoid the threat of hefty fines and even jail sentences. 

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