I’ve been waiting for the Canadian Ad Standards to catch up for a while now and my wish has finally come true: Ad Standards recently released comprehensive disclosure guidelines for influencer marketing (you can check them out right here). This document addresses everything from Snapchat stories to YouTube videos. Want a quick summary? Here are 5 things to know about the latest disclosure guidelines.
Of course, please take this as legal information and not legal advice. If you have any questions regarding influencer marketing and disclosure requirements, send me an email at email@example.com.
#1 Shared responsibility
While this point is only briefly addressed in the new guidelines, it is one of the most important ones to remember: disclosure is a shared responsibility. This means that everyone involved in the influencer marketing collaboration is responsible for making sure that disclosure requirements are met (this not only includes the brand and the influencer, but also PR firms or other agencies that act as facilitators).
#2 Not all disclosure hashtags are adequate
We’ve all seen the #spon, #collab and #ambassador hashtags. Unfortunately, these do not properly indicate whether or not a product was sent to the influencer or whether the influencer was paid to feature said product. Remember your hashtags need to be everything but ambiguous. Fabricated hashtags that use the influencer’s username, for instance, also do not meet the requirements.
#3 The placement of your disclosure statement matters
It is not rare to see influencers use more than one hashtag. According to the new guidelines, disclosure hashtags should not be buried amongst other hashtags and should be placed before any other mentions in a caption. If a sponsored post takes for the format of a video, on Facebook for instance, a visual disclosure, on top of a vocal disclosure, is also necessary (as many people listen to Facebook videos without any sound).
#4 Disclosure functionalities inherent to social media platforms are not necessarily enough
Instagram rolled out a few months ago a feature that would allow influencer to disclose their sponsored posts through a statement at the top of their pictures/videos. However, according to the latest disclosure guidelines, this type of disclosure might not always be enough. If you use a social media platform’s functionality to disclose a material relationship between a brand and an influencer, the guidelines suggest you include an additional disclosure statement, independent of any functionality you could use.
#5 Transparency above everything else
At the end of the day, what matters is that brands and influencers be transparent when it comes to their material relationships. Not sure whether or not your disclosure statement is compliant? Make it as easily understandable and as obvious as you can.
If you need any advice on how to properly disclose your sponsored posts or if you need assistance with the legal aspects of your next influencer marketing campaign, you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can click the link below to schedule a consultation.