With the maturing digital industry, advertising has moved on from print medium to social media platforms into the hands of influencers. Influencer advertisements are all over social media, and it does no good if these are misleading.
There have been a couple of instances when influencers have endorsed fraudulent products and events. The trade and advertising authorities have come together to regulate influencer advertising and make the influencers accountable for brand endorsements. Many online platforms have also introduced clear rules for influencer advertising. The rules and regulations vary from one country to another. In the U.S, it is governed by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), while the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) is responsible for policies in the United Kingdom.
It is the responsibility of brands and advertisers to regulate the content as much as the influencers. We, as a responsible influencer marketing platform, guide brands and influencers to follow the influencer advertising rules. QuikPlace is a reputed influencer marketplace, and we assure brands that we verify the influencer posts when we run campaigns for them. All the stakeholders must take collective responsibility and comply with the rules and regulations laid down by the competent authorities.
The FTC has been closely monitoring influencer advertising. They ran campaigns to inform influencers and marketers about the guidelines. Some of the influencers were even sent warning letters when they didn’t pay heed to the guidelines. So, the influencers can’t get past the eyes of the FTC.
Let’s take a look at the FTC rules and how influencers should ensure transparency in influencer advertising.
The FTC in the U.S. released guidelines for social media influencers regarding online advertising and its disclosure.
The influencer must disclose the endorsement when they have a financial gain, or are employed by the brand, or have a personal or family relationship with the brand.
The influencers have to disclose the endorsement even if they have got anything of value other than financial gains.
The influencers have to make a disclosure when they mention a product that they got for free or at discounted rates even if they weren’t asked to do so.
Unbiased evaluations from influencers also need disclosure.
The influencers have to make a disclosure even if their followers know of their brand relationship.
Tags, likes, and other similar ways of showing a liking for the product are also considered as a brand endorsement for the influencer.
If an influencer is promoting a product without any brand relationship, it is not necessary to tell the audience that they do not have a partnership.
If an influencer’s post affects U.S. consumers, the U.S. laws apply as well as the laws from where the influencer posted the content.
The FTC has laid down some guidelines on how the influencers should disclose the endorsement on social media.
The FTC makes it clear for the influencers that the disclosure of endorsement has to be in such a way that it is visible clearly and cannot be missed.
The post should carry the disclosure message. Viewers are most likely to miss the disclosure if influencers place them on their About Me page, bio, end of the post, or where a person requires to click MORE. Hence, the influencers have to place it where it is clear in the first shot.
The disclosure should be prominently displayed. The influencer should not mix it amidst a group of hashtags or links.
In places where there is no provision for post description like in Snapchat, WhatsApp & Instagram Stories, the influencers have to superimpose the disclosure over the image in a way that viewers can easily spot and read it.
For videos, the disclosure should be a part of the video and not just in the description. The influencers have to be both in audio and video form. It is to help viewers who may watch it without sound or may not notice the superimposed disclosure in the video.
In a live stream, the influencers should repeat the disclosure periodically. It is to help viewers who may see only a part of the live stream.
Simple & clean language-
Just like the disclosure placement, the FTC has framed rules on the language for disclosure.
Influencers can use terms like “advertisement”, “ad”, “sponsored”, “XYZPartner”, “XYZ Ambassador”, or “thanks to XYZ for the free product.”
Influencers can also use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored. But the disclosure has to be visible clearly.
The influencers should not use vague or confusing short forms like “sp”, “spon”, or “collab”.
Influencers should use the same language as the endorsement for the disclosure.
Even though some social media platforms provide disclosure tools, the influencers have to use their disclosures too.
Influencers have to try the product before recommending it to their followers. They simply cannot talk about their experience of the product or fake it for their followers.
If their experience with the product is not satisfactory, they cannot praise the product.
They cannot make false claims about the product if the advertiser does not have proof. For instance, influencers cannot make claims that a product can treat a health condition if they do not have the backing of scientific proof.
Quikplace, the best influencer marketplace, takes the onus to bring transparency and consistency in influencer advertising. We ensure that influencers make a disclosure when a post is a paid partnership. The influencers have to obtain consent from the brands while tagging them in paid partnership posts. The benefit of ensuring transparency in brand endorsement is to inform the audience about the partnership and guide them in making informed buying decisions. As a responsible influencer marketing platform, we collaborate with clients and influencers to create meaningful content that resonates with the brand identity.
It is the responsibility of the brands and marketers to ensure that their influencers follow the guidelines of the FTC and the social media platform. Violating the rules can lead to fines, penalty or profile deletion.
Here, at QuikPlace, a trusted influencer marketing platform, we take our roles seriously and ensure that our clients or influencers follow the influencer advertising regulations. You can count on our influencer marketplace services when we take up assignments to promote products for our clients.
The influencers, brands, and advertisers must pay heed to the code of ethics in influencer advertising. Else, they can kiss their campaigns goodbye forever.