The future of influencer marketing – do you know the new rules?

Emily Canessa Davies

As the influencer network continues to grow, new guidelines have been issued. Are <em>you</em> keeping up with the Kardashians (and the rest)?

Social media is more prolific than ever, continuing to grow at a rapid rate and, as part of that, influencer marketing is increasingly utilised by brands to reach new and un-tapped audiences. As a result, greater scrutiny is being placed on a space that has arguably been underregulated in the past. But times, they are-a-changing.

Research proves that less than 5% of a brand’s own social media posts will reach their intended audiences organically and even with boosted spend, branded content is often lost on feeds –influencers, however, are a much more effective way of increasing impactful reach.

If we are talking in black and white terms, more and more, brands pay influencers to help sell products or services; which historically has been deemed as advertising. Our <a href=””>Networked Age</a> study proved we are likely to feel more affinity towards an individual that we can relate and resonate with, rather than the direct voice of organisations. Ultimately, people follow people they can relate to and they respond to passionate voices, hence the growing power of an influencer. In an age where consumers are becoming increasingly cynical of brands and are quick to punish those that slip up, there is however a responsibility for the comms industry to ensure that the authenticity and integrity of both the influencers and brands are maintained.

As brand guardians who deploy influencer marketing regularly, we were very interested to hear from the ASA that they were introducing more stringent regulations to make the relationship between brand and influencer as transparent as possible for consumers. The regulations have now been made a legal requirement which all influencers must follow on all platforms and, as such, those who have not been following the rules have been subject to legal investigations and brands have been on the receiving end of a breakdown in consumer loyalty and mistrust`.

It is worth noting that influencers and social media are predominantly used as paid-for platforms by brands and despite not being seen as advertising in the strictest sense, it is undoubtedly a fine line between the two. But in the simplest of terms, these people are being paid or incentivised to write about brands, so there is a risk that the endorsement could be biased.

As the amount of money spent on influencer marketing grows, we have a responsibility as agency partners to ensure that the influencers we work with on behalf of the brands we represent abide by the regulations to ensure that our brands are protected from consumer cynicism.

We have gone through the regulations and pulled out the key guidelines that we will certainly be deploying in our future influencer campaigns.

Paid partnership with an influencer

  • Influencers must include AD or ADVERT at the start of the post across all channels
  • Influencer to include ‘paid partnership with XX’ in the heading


Non-paid influencer collaborations

  • Influencers must include AD or ADVERT at the start of the post across all channels
  • The influencer must explain the relationship the influencer has with the brand in text
  • This may occur when an influencer is doing something as a favour for a brand they have an existing relationship with


Non-paid gifting (includes discount codes and vouchers)

  • Influencers must include AD – GIFT in the copy (before the ‘see more’ button)
  • The influencer must explain if the product has been gifted in the text


Influencer shoots or trips

  • Influencers must include AD if it’s paid or unpaid on ALL content (even if they are posting more than they’re contracted to)
  • If the trip or shoot is part of a paid collaboration, the influencer must explain this in the caption of the post


Influencers that have bought the products themselves

  • Influencers must still include AD if they have worked with the brand in the past and using an affiliate link