The rise of social influencers has changed the marketing landscape, and today sees the unveiling of a new Influencer Marketing Code of Conduct to help both practitioners and influencers navigate the murky world of promoted posts.
Six out of 10 PRs and marketers admit to being in the dark around the UK’s official advertising code, the CAP code, which provides guidance on how to advertise and promote products to consumers. In fact, 12% of them had no idea what the CAP code is. As a result, Takumi, an app which connects Instagram influencers with brands they want to partner with, has devised this new code with their social influencers to guide both parties in best practice and fill in the knowledge gap.
The guidelines are as follows:
As a social media influencer, I will…
1. Always clearly identify any post that endorses or promotes a product for which I have been paid (cash or product) as an advertisement using #ad (when a brand has editorial control over content), #spon (the influencer has full creative control over content but the brand have contributed) or a similar, industry-recognised hashtag.
2. Ensure that any paid-for posts clearly indicate who has paid for the endorsement or promotion.
3. Seek to apply the same creativity and effort to promoted messages as my other content.
4. Not work with brands and corporations that are in conflict with my ethical views, companies you would otherwise never do business with.
5. Always be honest about my opinion of the promoted product and services.
6. Do not buy or artificially inflate my follower count or engagement through paid-for or ‘like-for-like’ means
7. Use the messaging provided in a brands campaign brief to ensure my content is well evaluated and there is mutual gain from the activity for both brand and myself.
8. Always make sure I maintain an appropriate level of non-promotional posts alongside any branded content.
9. Always work with brands collaboratively to ensure there is a clear campaign brief for any promotional content.
10. Be available to share engagement results on request and, where possible, provide benchmark figures for brands to evaluate against.
As a brand working with influencers, I will…
1. Make influencers aware of the regulations around promoted posts and ensure that they clearly identify them as an advertisement using #ad, #spon or a similar, industry-recognised hashtag.
2. Ensure that any paid-for posts clearly indicate that my brand has paid for the endorsement or promotion
3. Always respect the honest opinions of influencers about my brand in their content
4. Not work with influencers that are in conflict with my brand’s ethical views, or who I would otherwise never do business with
5. Not work with influencers who buy or artificially inflate their follower count or engagement through paid-for or ‘like-for-like’ means
6. Agree the messaging for any campaign beforehand to ensure my content is well evaluated and there is mutual gain from the activity for both brand and influencer
7. Always work with influencers collaboratively to ensure there is a clear campaign brief for any promotional content
8. Always ask for engagement results to evaluate the influencer campaign against existing benchmark figures
The guidelines came into existence after the largest ever survey into influencer marketing practices amongst PR and marketing professionals revealed a significant knowledge gap.
Despite spending an average of £42,000 a year on influencer campaigns, industry insiders are breaking some fundamental rules and failing to get the best for their brands.
The survey of 500 PR and marketing experts found that 8 in 10 (82%) work with influencers in some capacity, yet 73% expect influencers to participate in a campaign without payment but in exchange for free product or credit.
A fifth (21%) promise influencers paid work later down the line, and one in 10 (9%) think the kudos of working with the brand is enough repayment in itself. 6 per cent refuse to compensate them altogether in recognition for their efforts.
It also found that it isn’t just payment causing widespread confusion in the industry. Less than half (40%) of those questioned collaborate with the influencer on the campaign creative, and just 1 in 5 (20%) offer the influencer total creative freedom. Seven per cent go as far as to provide exceptionally restrictive briefs leaving no room for imagination - failing to benefit from the increasing levels of engagement achieved with original and authentic content creation.
Maria Heckel, marketing director at the Chartered Institute of Marketing said :“As the champion of customer engagement and best practice in the industry, CIM stands up for responsible, ethical marketing practice. In an increasingly complex world, we know from our own research that marketers find it hard to keep abreast of regulation and best practice, so we welcome Takumi’s Influencer Marketing Code of Conduct which sets out robust, straightforward guidelines to ensure influencer marketing stays honest and authentic. Being straight with customers wins trust – and trusted brands are the core of successful businesses.”
By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine
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