If you’re a blogger or social media presence then I’m sure you’ll have noticed that recent events surrounding New Advertising Standards Authority Guidelines have almost caused the world of social media to go into meltdown. I don’t think I’ve received more messages regarding a topic on Instagram since I started many years ago. So this post post is here to tell you, don’t panic!
I’ve wanted to sit down and write this since the uproar began but I needed the time to clue myself up on what was actually changing regarding the ASA and how it would actually affect all of us. Now I’m only human and a one woman band so there is always room for error but I hope that I can help clear some things up for us all.
Before we get stuck in grab a cuppa, sit yourself comfortably and we’ll get started and you may find that it’s all much simpler than you or I first thought it was because the ASA and the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) have now just teamed up with the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) to create clear laws and boundaries in order to make Influencer Marketing fair for all whether you have 10 followers or 10 Million. And actually they’ve made it really easy for us by creating a simple easy to follow diagram and downloadable document to ensure that you can correctly disclose your posts which I’ve included in the post below but here is my simple take on the whole disclosure system when it comes to ad campaigns on your social media.
Your disclosure should always be at the beginning of your caption or clearly marked on the photo/video segment where an advertised product is present. Gone are the days of being able to get away with hiding your #ad in a sea of 20-30 other ads in the hopes that your followers wont see it. If somebody makes a complaint to the ASA you will be liable.
ADS – If you have been given monetary incentives to post about a product it is obviously an AD. If there is no monetary gain and you are gifted the product but the brand has stipulated any rules or agreements on your post, for example they have given you certain hashtags to use or they have asked for their product to be shown on a certain media platform of yours, THIS IS STILL AN AD. If it wasn’t they would send you the product regardless of you sharing it or using it. I have seen many variations of this however, some influencers have used AD – Gifted, AD – Unpaid, AD – In collab with, but the important thing to remember is, that the word AD is there, at the beginning, in black and white and clearly visible. In the simplest terms possible, if you are paid to create an ad campaign or given a product or taken on a PR trip or given ANYTHING FOR FREE and the brand has any sort of control over the way you post about that product or campaign – it is an Advertisement.
Sponsored – This is where all of the above for the AD applies EXCEPT the brand has absolutely no control over what you post. If you were sent a beautiful pot of tea set by a company in return for a review but they havent stipulated any guidelines at all, they haven’t said it needs to be on Instagram or that you have to write a blog post, they haven’t even given you a time frame to post within. This is a sponsored post. They could even have paid you for the content but if there were no rules in place, it’s a sponsor not an AD. According to this document from the ASA/CAP/CMA even if a brand asks to see the post before you set it live, that’s an AD as you’ve not been given free reign over it.
Gifted – The only time that this is appropriate to use in a post is when a brand has contacted you and asked if they can send you a product. FULL STOP. And that is where the conversation ends. If you then try the product and love it and choose to share it with your audience you are 100% allowed to say it was Gifted. This diagram from the link above is very useful when it comes to trying to understand how to correctly disclose ads on your posts.
Phew! If you’ve made it this far then give yourself a pat on the back, and me because this post did actually give me a headache! I hope it’s been helpful and I’ve tried to put as many useful links in there as I could to help you manage the new changes. If you found this useful then please share, I worked hard and I hope that it’s helped some of you understand things a bit better.