Using influencers? Check the fine print…

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

How often do you stop to read a celebrity’s social post about a product or experience?

Social media is the ultimate “I want what she’s having” environment, where a somebody (or even a nobody) can influence buying behaviour.

The world of social media has become a Pandora’s Box of opportunity for business but, when your marketing team utters the words “social media” and “influencer” in the same sentence, you need to consider your legal, ethical and customer requirements.

Currently in Australia we have voluntary guidelines developed by the Australian Association of National Advertisers and the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (yes, there is such a thing!).

Both groups strongly recommend that social media influencers should disclose any paid endorsements.

Although Australian law is playing catch-up when it comes to social media regulation, there are some legal risks in camouflaging a paid post, blog or influencer comment.

Australian Consumer Law states two fundamental rules:

· You must not engage in conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive.

· You must not make false or misleading claims or statements.

This requires any organisation that engages a social media influencer must ensure they declare all paid brand advertising.

If your organisation is (or considering) using an influencer – get some legal advice.

Ensure your strategy is watertight and remember, the legal requirements for social media posts by influencers vary from country to country, so you may need legal advice relating to various international markets.

A popular old loophole – paying with contra product - is also closed. Contra is considered a paid arrangement.

My rule of thumb - if an organisation wants to build a long term and trusted relationship with a consumer, it needs to be authentic, transparent, honest and open in all its communication.

Honesty remains the cornerstone to any successful communications strategy.

Siobhan Dooley

>> Siobhan recently completed the University of Oxford Saïd Business School’s Digital Marketing: Disruptive Strategy Programme.

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