Brand-influencer collaborations on social media have pretty much managed to bridge the gap between the brands and their consumers. While, the influencers keep their audience or followers hooked to these online marketing platforms with regular content, many agencies and watchdog groups have warmed to the idea of transparency and need for compliance.
Need for Regulations? But, Why?
According to a recent survey, nearly 49 percent of the respondents reportedly believe in putting together a set of rules on influencers’ content to clearly disclose brand affiliations and sponsored content like ads, promotions and campaigns to the consumers.
Every year the growth and evolution of influencer marketing continues despite new trends surfacing in the industry. A research also predicts that the overall market for influencer marketing will reach anywhere between a whopping 5-10 million USD by 2020. Marketers and businesses prefer giving their audience enough clarity about their brand and products featured in the influencers’ content and campaigns.
The regulations from the 2008 UK consumer protection law mandates all content that are created exclusively for the promotion of a product to be labelled and made ‘easy to identify’ for consumers. The much recent Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have also issued new guidelines for social media influencers and brands.
Regulations would merit brands, consumers and the social media influencer community by creating consistency and transparency in the language and tools used in product promotion posts. Moreover, transparency in content helps influencers to define an appropriate engagement strategy that does not cloud the followers’ vision with celebrity or influencers’ personal brand.
Transparency or disclosing influencer partnerships are useful in...
1. Making Brands More Discoverable
Any commercial relationships between the brand and influencers must be disclosed by using Instagram’s paid partnership tags, #ads, #spon and #sp. These practices increase consumers’ awareness about the products offered by the brands and businesses endorsed through influencers campaigns.
2. Clearly Revealing All Paid Content and Partnerships
About 81 percent of the respondents in a U.K study believe that they should be informed if the influencers are paid for brands’ product promotions. The new rules ensure that influencers collaborating with the brands disclose every piece of content they have been paid for with relevant captions, titles and post descriptions. Even if it is an ad or a part of the post sponsored by a brand, influencers must reveal all commercial affiliations with techniques like flagging the links to those products. Influencers’ posts that lack insufficient brand labelling are subject to bans by the ASA.
3. Differentiating Brand-sponsored Posts from Inauthentic Content
Consumers and followers are exposed to a sea of irrelevant and outdated content. Around 47 percent of the consumers are tired of inauthentic influencer content and posts, finds a study. These posts impact trust scores of the followers, making them more suspicious of the authenticity of the content in the posts, brand collaboration and brand values. Complying to the rules of labelling sponsored content and paid posts helps brands and consumers to build a direct, genuine connection.
Influencers’ Integrity Matters
Till now, there’s only been one ban— Made in Chelsea star and influencer, Louise Thompson’s posts on Instagram were banned by ASA for not accurately labeling paid content sponsored by Daniel Wellington watches. In the absence of approved, standard practices and tight regulations in influencer marketing, transparency as a goal seems quite ‘debatable’.
It is mostly boils down to influencers’ integrity and choice in making meticulous use of certain hashtags and labels for sponsored content.