Social Media Influencing Rules and Regs

Affiliate? AD? gifted? what’s the difference then? I know that a lot of my audience are wonderful mama’s who are building their social platform and these things are quite new. Working with brands and businesses is great fun, and reviewing products, even getting freebies are a massive perk, but there are guidelines to follow to ensure you are giving the appropriate information regarding the goodies.

The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) have bought out guidelines to help support the influencer phenomenon, and ensure that viewers know if someone is being paid to promote a wonderful, must-have product (that you probably don’t need).

The ASA are the regulators for advertising in the UK who ensure people are sticking to the rules! In this post I also mention the CAP (The Committee of Advertising Practice) who support the education and information around correct advertising, and the CMA (The Competition and Markets Authority) who enforce competition and consumer law.

Ok, so…(Scroll to the bottom for a bullet point list with examples to get the benefits of the whole blog post in quick-time).

What constitutes as an #AD? If a business or brand has paid you a fee, and has editorial control over the content you are posting, this is an advert. From specified hashtags to the amount of times you’re required to post, there are plenty of thingst that fall under ‘editorial control’. It is an #AD when the brand is paying a content creator to generate sales and traffic; and the brand has some sense of influence over the general tone of the content.

It’s no good just chucking #AD at the begining of everything brand related and hoping you’ve done enough to declare your partnership, as that still is falsely informing the viewer of the connection that is present between brand and creator. From what I understand, under the CMA, it is NOT an ad if you have been paid, gifted or gained comission but you are free to post the content in a way that you wish without influence from the brand. This is described more like ‘sponsorship’ and according to this source, the ASA do not pursue complaints around this type of content.

With that said, if you are paid in money or in kind, you are still required under CMA to clearly label your content as containing ‘Advertisement promotion’ or ‘Advertising feature’, confusing isn’t it?!

Affiliate links are links that are personally linked to a promoter / influencer / person who shares them. When the reader clicks the link and purchases the recommended product, the person will recieve some sort of commission for their share at no cost to the customer. Link sharing on instagram is difficult without the swipe up feature, but you can start a blog with a non-existent following and begin sharing your thoughts. With the rise if nano-influencing, old school blogging is overlooked but there is definitley still a place for it, you’re reading this afterall aren’t you!

The revenue generated from affiliate links builds that promoters relationship with the brand, and brings in a little £££. This can be, for example, 5% commission from each existing customer purchase with 10% from new customer purchases, or an 8% commission on all purchases made by new and existing customers. You are required to declare when affiliate links are used in your content.

The types of hashtags and language around advertising that the ASA accepts are “Ad, Advert, Advertising, Advertisment”. The ASA recommends staying away from a simple @ of the brand, “In sponsorship with”, and giving thanks to the brand.

Any labelling you use needs to be upfront before your viewers engage any further with the post – Burying it in your hashtags isn’t good enough.

Pin me for later!

So my understanding of the rules are as follows. I always, always, always say to do your own research and with one simple google search of ASA you will find a tonne of resources. I used this source to gain my own understanding, and this source for further research.

  • Use “AD” If you are paid for it, and the brand has any level of control over the content. If I paid you to promote a pair of leggings, and said that you must post two photos on your instagram grid, and one story post, this is an advert.
  • Use “Advertising Feature” If you are paid, in money or in kind, to create content through a commercial relationship, but are free to post your open, honest review at your own discretion. If i paid you to promote a pair of leggings but let you take control of content creation, where and how you shared it, this is an advertising feature.
  • Use “Affiliate link” if you are to recieve any level of comission or compensation for generating sales through your content creation. If you promoted the pair of leggings I made with a swipe up link or blog post, your followers purchased a pair, and you recieved 8% of those sales, this is an affiliation / affiliate link.
  • Use “Gifted” if you are sharing a product you have recieved for free, but not been paid to share. If I sent you a pair of leggings simply to share and promote but no payment is recieved and you are under no obligation to post, this is a gift.

Personally, I think that small businesses need to know the terminology too, so you can work effectively with content creators and ensure the information around labelling is shared. The ASA states that when advertising our own products, we must declare so in the same way as adverts are declared above. Also, if you’re a small business holding a giveaway – Theres a whole set of rules and regs to be aware of before you start!

Why is this all important?

If someone makes a complaint to the ASA about the way in which you are (or are not) declaring content, you can be investigated and instructed to change and/or remove your content and anything similar. At the worst end of the scale, you can be sanctioned, possibly resulting in losing revenue and relationships. It’s just a lot easier to be informed on the topic if working with brands on social media is an area of interest to you.

I’ve linked to it a few times, but for a truly informative piece of media, the ASA have published an info pack, including a flow chart to help you work out how to label your content. Click here to view.

I hope this helps in some way, let me know if it was useful!

Keep making your incredible content, let others know if you’ve been paid the $$$, and continue to build strong partnerships with brands and get the goodies!

Photo credit Featured,1,2

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