The explosion of brands using bloggers and celebrities to endorse their brands has changed marketing forever. Traditional advertising methods are in decline as audiences are increasingly using ad-blockers and skipping advertisements and tuning into social media influencers for more authentic opinions on travel, cooking, fashion, gaming and so on. Once brands throw in some casual product placement the lines become blurred as to where old-style advertorials come into play. But beware – there are rules and laws governing this space – and the stakes are high.
Misleading the public Consumer Protection Regulation (CPR) has been law across the EU since 2008 and it bans advertisers from misleading customers and making ‘significant omissions’. This basically means it is the law that influencers must make it clear when they have been paid to promote anything at all.
Action by regulators If an influencer fails to disclose a commercial relationship with a brand in their posts, the brand is at risk from rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK. In America the Federal Trade Commission is even stricter and a violation of their rules can result in a $40k penalty.
Bad publicity Aligning your brand with an influencer could also risk its reputation. YouTube star PewDiePie, a gamer with over 57million subscribers recently caused fresh controversy by making racist comments on a live feed losing him a contract with Disney. Influencers with big egos may not always follow the rules which can land brands in hot water and alienate followers, so choose your personalities carefully.
Fake influencers Anyone can create a fake account using thousands of paid-for likes and stock photography for less than £1,000. Scammers can then sign up to influencer agencies and begin receiving fees and free products within days.
Alpro Yoghurt received an ASA ruling when TV presenter AJ Odudu failed to make it clear that her product tweets were paid for. The lesson here is that compliance falls under the remit of the brand and not the influencer. So monitor posts carefully and make sure you have a decent well written contract to clarify the influencer’s legal obligations.
Despite these warnings, combining Influencer Marketing with promotions can be dynamite! Using a blogger to run a competition or a prize draw will deepen audiences’ connection to a brand, encourage sales and can be a great way to track engagement for that influencer. We came up with our top tips to consider first:
1. Have a Contract – Set clear rules for your influencer to make sure they follow the rules and to enforce other things like copyright, post frequency, payment terms etc. An official influencer contract is easy to organise and will protect your brand in the long run.
2. Stick to the rules – always clearly mark all promotion posts with Ad, advert or #advert to communicate that your influencer has been paid to promote your brand.
3. Compliance is everywhere – If your influencer has thousands of followers all over the world you may have entrants in places where compliance laws for running promotions are completely different which makes things complicated. Speak to PromoVeritas for best practice and solutions for running successful promotions globally.
4. Excellent Terms & Conditions – the secret to the success of all promotions is a full set of T&Cs to protect the consumer and your brand from confusion and abuse, and the promotional post must link to them clearly.
5. Get creative – using an influencer to promote a competition can mean a great deal of imaginative user generated content, a cool judge on the panel and the ability to involve followers in selecting a winner. Just make sure there is a clear judging brief and an independent judge in the process.
6. Send out prizes – many brands and agencies often overlook this final step. Add an influencer into the mix and it is easy to confuse who is responsible for fulfilment – but it is essential to comply with the law and to avoid bad publicity. Publishing your winners in a winners list is also a requirement of the CAP Code.