The Guardian reports on a rise in complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK advertising regulator, who says ‘influencers’ on social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter fail to declare that they are being paid to publicise products.
The newspaper defines ‘influencers’ thus:
Social media celebrities who have large and engaged followings online. They get paid money to publicise products and can command tens of thousands for one post.
This is about disclosure where the influencer publicising a product or service would makes it clear in his or her post that there’s some kind of relationship with the brand owner and/or that the influencer receives compensation for that post, financial or otherwise.
It’s common sense to disclose such relationships, to ensure there’s no ambiguity and to improve transparency. In our current climate of fake news and mistrust, removing ambiguity and being wholly transparent surely are positive influencers of reputation, both for the influencer and for the brand.
Yet, according to the ASA, it’s not happening with some influencers in the UK. It’s a similar picture in the US and elsewhere, where a small number aren’t practising good disclosure behaviours. Most get it right such as illustrated in the screenshot above where Californian fashion and interior design blogger Aimee Song is very clear about her relationship with Volvo Cars, for instance, when she posts a picture on Instagram.
So is it lack of awareness or understanding about the rules that are at play here? The ASA seems to think so although I find that hard to take really seriously in this age of global connectivity where it isn’t hard at all to discover what’s right and what’s not. And remember the ‘common sense’ that I already mentioned.
Still, there clearly is a need for helping everyone involved understand the rules and best practice. The CIPR weighed in with its recommendations for members of the PR community with CIPR President Jason MacKenzie noting:
The growth of influencers on social media offers PR professionals new opportunities. But those opportunities come with responsibilities. The public have a right to know the difference between authentic endorsements and paid-for content
The Guardian quotes Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, and others, who make some wide-ranging observations on the influencer landscape in the UK and “what needs to be done.” You can read that here.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.