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Working with social media influencers to promote your brand or products is a fantastic way to engage your target audience. Influencers do exactly what they say on the tin, influence their following with the power to affect attitudes, behaviours, and actions (aka sales!). Working with influencers can not only boost your brand awareness, engagement, and messaging, but if you work with the right influencers, you can get right in front of your target audience’s eyes! In our latest podcast you can get the skinny on all things influencers, just tune in to Episode 10: What is influencer marketing?
No matter the size of your brand, influencer marketing can be an excellent way to build your reach, grow your following, boost sales and drive website traffic. When working with influencers, it is often more cost-effective and impactful (provided the influencer already has a natural affiliation to your brand), than paid social media advertising. However, you will need to keep one thing in mind: when working with influencers, you need to stay within the ASA guidelines…
What is the ASA?
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s advertising regulator. The ASA ensures that adverts across the UK media abide by the advertising rules (the Ad Codes). The ASA usually work in harmony with The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), whose members represent advertisers, media owners, and agencies, and is responsible for writing the Ad Codes, as well as The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority.
What ASA guidelines do I need to follow?
If you are working with an influencer for your company, then you will need to make yourself aware of the rules that apply to the influencer marketing activity that you are undertaking. This will depend on the circumstances and content you are planning to create with an influencer. It is worth paying particular attention to the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the CAP Code) and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).
What exactly are the ASA rules?
The ASA rules are put in place to ensure the content marketed by brands through influencers is fairly stated, to avoid ‘unfair commercial practices’. When a brand gives an influencer a payment (which also includes free products), any posts then promoting or endorsing the brand, or its products or services become subject to consumer protection law. Payment, in these terms, means any form of monetary payment; a commission; a free loan of a product/service; a free product/service (whether requested or received out of the blue); or any other incentive. This means the influencers you work with will need to disclose that it is a paid-for post, whether or not there has been an actual payment or if a product, gift, service or trip has been provided. This also counts for on-going commercial relationships with influencers, such as brand ambassadors, who will also need to state that it is paid promotion, even if a particular post wasn’t specifically paid-for but you work with the influencer on other commercial activities.
How can I make sure an influencer aligns with the ASA guidelines?
Under the CAP Code, adverts ‘must be obviously identifiable as such’, and the CMA advises that they must be ‘clearly identifiable‘ to comply with consumer law. You will need to ensure consumers can recognise that your influencer content is an ad, without having to click or otherwise interact with it. Most influencer marketing appears alongside organic/editorial content and is presented in a very similar style, so it usually isn’t immediately obvious to a consumer when something is or isn’t an ad from the context alone.
Both you, the influencer, and any agents involved in creating or publishing the content are responsible for ensuring that it makes clear when it’s advertising or has a commercial message. Ultimately, if it’s not obvious from the context that something’s an ad, a clear and prominent disclosure is needed. This can be easily achieved through hashtags such as #ad #gifted #sponsored, thanking the brand, or simply stating that it is an advert at the beginning or end of the post.
Social media is one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways to tell the world how brilliant your company is. Wouldn’t it be great if you were the only one who’d caught on to this? The issue is that pretty much every organisation in the world has jumped onto the social media wagon and that creates a lot of noise!
Now is the time to save yourself precious time and energy by signing up to our Social Media Engagement Success service. We’ll do the hard work of managing your channels leaving you free to sit back and reap the rewards. Or for more ideas on maximising your social media channels, download our FREE Social Media Content Plan!