Oops they’ve done it again

*cue Britney Spears*

Over the last few weeks influencers have been taking to social media to vent about the new, slightly confusing ASA influencer guidelines around advertising and sponsorship. These new advertising guidelines are focusing specifically on the changes to the social media disclosure rules.

If, like me, you were confused about what this means then you have come to the right place to learn about what exactly this means.

Influencers on social media have a huge amount of impact over peoples purchasing decisions if they are promoting any brands, services or products. People should know if an influencer has received an incentive or payment to promote something on social media, including if a product was gifted for free. Over the years, with the growing power of social media this has become a bigger issue leading many celebrities or influencers to be warned by the ASA.

What Has Changed?

  • The most recent changes focus on making sure it is clearly identifiable to all followers and people just stumbling on a sponsored post that there has been some kind of payment or relationship with a brand.
  • For example, if someone is posting an advertisement through discount codes, competitions or giveaways, they can no longer assume that this is enough to make a relationship with a brand clear. Posts like this need to be clearly stated that it is a promotion.

  • Past relationships
    with brands must also be disclosed now, however only within a reasonable time. Even if there is no current relationship, if you have worked with a brand within the past year it would need to be declared to your followers. Customer protection law requires that posts cannot be misleading. This means that you cannot give the impression you have used a product if you haven’t or pretend you bought a product that was actually provided as a gift or on loan.
  • The main issue is to ensure that if someone has received or been promised payment or incentives this should be stated in an easy, transparent, prominent and timely manner. This means the disclosure of payment should be made upfront, at the beginning of an Instagram caption for example.
  • The asa guidelines on instagram for influencers
  • Common practises that do not comply to the legal requirements are as follows:
    • Tagging a brand or business in the text, picture or video without additional disclosure
    • Using ambiguous language (for example: ‘thank you’, ‘made possible by’ or ‘in collaboration with’) without additional disclosure
    • Using unclear hashtags like #sp, #spon, #collab ect
    • When disclosure (example: #ad, #advert) is not prominent and is hidden among additional text or hashtags.

    Multiple statements in each individual post isn’t necessary regarding past and current relationships. However, if there is a post featuring multiple brands/businesses that you have a relationship with then it needs to be clearly identified to anyone viewing this post.

    My Thoughts?

    As someone who has worked with brands before in exchange for providing content, it is good to know that there are such clear regulations in place. I personally think it can be really irresponsible for celebrities or big influencers to not disclose ads properly as it really takes advantage of the consumers who value their honest opinion on products. After the disaster of models promoting FYRE festival and celebrity influencers being called out for detox products I think it’s good that people are starting to look more critically about what is being promoted on social media.