We all recognise the importance of influencers when it comes to building brand awareness and advocacy, but it is important to make sure you are using the right influencers for the right reasons while being open and authentic with your audience. Today, 89% of marketers say they believe influencer marketing to be effective. However, these brand advocates and ambassadors have once again found themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A recent sweep carried out by the ad watchdog ASA revealed that while nearly one in four influencer stories were advertisements, only a third were clearly labelled and visibly identifiable as such. Many assume it’s down to the influencer to make the declaration but if a brand is involved in the transfer of funds or gifts to an influential figure in exchange for coverage, the responsibility to ensure the influencer declares the partnership as an ad rests with the brand.
A recent influencer partnership by Pretty Little Thing was banned by ASA, as the Tik Tok video series failed to include that the partnership was a “marketing communication” and the post was removed. Not only is this a wasted financial investment for the brand, they are now left with a video that will not be seen by its intended audience, and it is also damaging to their reputation.
When a brand engaged in a partnership, ensuring that influencers identify content as ads ensures that the brand is compliant, and its integrity is not put at risk. Disclosing influencer collaborations is a key part of being honest with your audience and will help retain customers and generate new ones.
How can a brand ensure they’re sticking to the rules?
The easiest way is by ensuring the need to declare an ad is clearly stated within any contract, briefing document and all correspondence with an influencer you’re working with. At Hotwire, our internal processes ensure the client never has to think about guidelines, we do the hard work for them and ensure compliancy is met and our clients and the talent are protected against any infringement.
We ensure there are multiple touch points explaining the declaration policy throughout the briefing process with any influencer and request being sent the drafted content with the relevant tags included for review before anything is uploading or set live. This is to ensure a final thorough check is made so our client won’t be liable for any disclosure issues.
How to declare an AD
The ASA says influencers must:
- Disclose when they have any financial, employment, personal or family relationship with a brand.
- Use clear and simply language such as “advertisement”, “ad” or “Advert”
Here are some examples of compliance approved content from influencer work at Hotwire for our clients Omron, Asus and Qualcomm:
Although the term “Sponsored” has been used in the past, it comes with a level of risk, as the ASA has made it clear that the term doesn’t go far enough to make it obvious that its advertising. So, it is recommended to stay away from using terms such as “Sponsorship”, “Sponsored” or “Spon”.
With sponsored Instagram posts growing by 30% year-over-year, the need for transparency whilst using social media is only going to increase as influencers – and brands – compete for our attention across social platforms. Consumers and users of these channels are getting wise to the different ways they are sold products and they all, particularly Gen Z, want to feel a connection to the influencer -and therefore the brand.
We can see from the backlash against brands such as Pretty Little Thing that consumers and users are demanding authenticity and transparency like never before. The brands who best follow the ‘rules’ and can form a real connection with their audience will be the ones who will get it right and reap the rewards.