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The 411 on Paid Social Media Ads


Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to your favourite influencer’s Instagram post than just the caption ‘#ad’. Social media influencers have to adhere to strict rules when it comes to paid promotion online and with the UK advertising watchdog cracking down on any rule breakers, what exactly does it all mean?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cautioned around 300 social media influencers for not being transparent enough with their followers when they are posting content that has been sponsored or paid for. When a brand contacts an influencer to promote their product, the influencer gets to choose whether they want to actively advertise said product on their social media. The big hoo-ha at the moment is all about the fact that influencers aren’t being transparent about this. They have to follow a long list of rules.

But what are the new rules?

  • Influencers must clearly label any content that has been paid-for with hashtags like #ad and #sponsored. These have to be posted at the beginning of the caption from now on, instead of being discreetly hidden amongst other hashtags.
  • If the influencer has been gifted an item with no requirement to post about it and they do, they must declare this by using a hashtag similar to #freebie or #gifted.
  • Any companies that an influencer works for cannot just be declared on their profile, it now has to be clearly stated within the individual post. If multiple commercial relationships relate to an individual post, they must all be named.

It may seem like a lot for one tiny little post, but it’s the rules. Nobody likes a rule breaker now do they? *cough cough – Kendall Jenner at Fyre Festival*…

Well, following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), sixteen social media stars have pledged to be more transparent and change their practices when it comes to consumer law. Whether the list of stars, including Youtube’s Zoella and Jim Chapman or TOWIE’s Mario Falcone, haven’t been as honest as we’d like with their posts, we aren’t sure. They definitely will be now though as they could be taken to court, face heavy fines or even prison sentences if the guidelines are continuously ignored.

We’ll always be transparent with you when it comes to our social media work. Social media can be the most efficient marketing method available, if done correctly. Let’s have a chat to discuss your influencer strategy!