Advertising body to publish guide for 'social influencers'

The advertising watchdog is to publish a guide for the YouTube generation of 'influencers' in a bid to crack down on them falling foul of the rules while promoting products online.

Social influencers are to be told how to ensure they follow guidelines.

The new guide, published by the Committees of Advertising Practice (Cap) aims to help social influencers such as vloggers or celebrities with a strong social media following make clear when their posts are actually adverts.

Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into concerns that social media influencers, who can sway the shopping habits of millions of consumers, may not be properly disclosing that they have received money in return for their posts.

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Shahriar Coupal, director of Cap, said: “Responsible influencer marketing involves being upfront and clear with the audience, so people are not confused or misled and know when they’re being advertised to. The relationship between influencers and their followers relies on trust and authenticity, so transparency is in the interests of all parties. This guide on the standards will help influencers and brands stick to the rules by being upfront with their followers.”

George Lusty, the CMA’s senior director for Consumer Protection said: “If celebrities or influencers are posting about a product on social media, they must make it clear if they’ve been paid to promote it, or have been gifted, loaned a product or thanked in some other way by a brand. No one should be left thinking that a Tweet or Instagram post is just the person’s opinion when it’s not.”

He added: “We’ve already launched an investigation into concerns that social media stars are not properly labelling their posts, and we hope this guidance will help all influencers stay on the right side of consumer law.”