The Competition and Markets Authority has released a new set of guidelines concerning social media endorsements.
This new guide details everything influencers need to do before publishing a sponsored post while explaining how to be as transparent as possible.
The guide states that: "people need to know if influencers have been paid, incentivised or in any way rewarded to endorse or review something in their posts. It’s important that they make this clear to their followers. This includes when a product or service has been given to them for free."
So what do influencers need to do?
The guidelines state that influencers must disclose when they've been paid to promote a product or service. 'Payment' also means items or services that have been gifted or loaned to them.
"Influencers receive freebies because of their high public profile and because brands or businesses hope they might post about them in return," The post states. "If you have not purchased a product or service yourself, but received it free, make this clear.
It also encourages influeners to be transparent about their relationship with a brand or business. Influencers should not only disclose ongoing relationships, but rpast elationships that have existed within a reasonable time period. For example, if an influencer promotes a brand or product, they need to disclose their affiliation even if it's no longer active at the time of the post.
Keeping it clear
According to the guidelines, it's important for influencers to not 'mislead' their audience in the following ways.
- You are just a consumer when you are actually acting for your own business purposes or on behalf of a brand or other business
- You have bought something that was given to you as a gift or on loan
- You have used the service or product yourself, if you haven’t
"Without appropriate disclosure, people may reasonably assume that an influencer who is promoting, endorsing or reviewing a product or a service, does not have a relationship with the businesses they are promoting." The guide states.
Influencers should also disclose whether or not they have used a product or service that they are promoting, so people don't assume that "any results that are being claimed are ones you have achieved or experienced first-hand."
If I'm being honest
The CMA is also placing a huge focus on transparency, and for good reason. The guide urges disclosure to be "easy to understand, unambiguous, timely and prominent".
There's also a list of disclosure examples that the CMA doesn't consider good enough to comply with the legal requirements. These include tagging a brand in an post, using custom discount codes with no context, or using various hashtags such as #as or #spon.