Sofa Sessions Feb 2022

Sofa Sessions - February 2022: Looking fine or getting fined? Are your influencers following the rules?

Welcome back to Sofa Sessions as we return for 2022 to bring all the newest insights from the world of social to you on the comfort of your couch.

Joining Engine’s Senior Strategist, David Blackett for the first session of the new year was Vanessa Vyapooree, Talent Management at Get Stuff Done, Adeola Gboyega, Pro Make-Up Artist, Educator and Content Creator, and Amy Kingham, Head of Compliance at PromoVeritas.

With more of a spotlight on compliance than ever, we dug into the rules and regulations brands need to follow to ensure their influencer partnerships are smooth sailing.

The Rules of the Game

David opened by asking Amy to summarise the key ways influencers can ensure they’re disclosing their ads in accordance with guidance from both the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and Consumer Markets Authority (CMA). Amy explained,

"it is as easy as including #ad (for a paid partnership) or #gift if you've been given the product."

She also stressed the importance of “clear disclosure at the beginning of the copy including AD or #ad or using the pain partnership function on Instagram.

Vanessa has seen brands taking more ownership of ad disclosure when working with influencers. With increased demand to see how #ad will be used at the content approval stage Vanessa believes “they’re definitely changing and stepping it up.”

However, Vanessa believes there is a downside to adhering to the ASA as her influencers’ brand collaborations don’t seem to receive the reach their organic content does. Whilst not proven, this is likely due to a function within the Instagram algorithm. Vanessa highlighted that even though ther is potentially a drop in engagement and reach those she manages continue to disclose their ads at the start of all captions.

Starting her creator career last year, Adeola referenced that “for very long time, it was very confusing like what do you disclose what don't you disclose”. She emphasised the need for creators to “take ownership” of their content and compliance, researching regulations to ensure utmost transparency with their audience.

The importance of transparency

The conversation turned towards why ad disclosure if so vital to success as a creator when collaborating with brands.

Amy nodded to an ASA labelling study which indicated

only 41% of the participants could confidently identify a post as an ad when 'ad' is the first word in the caption.

She also referenced the need for #gift to be used over #gifted as some in the study formerly misconstrued the latter to reference ‘gifted and talented’ rather than a ‘gifted product’.

Vanessa built on this by mentioning several of her creators using an ‘Ad break’ format when posting paid partnership Instagram Stories. This includes adding a story before the brand approved frames to say: “this is an ad, I want you to look through it, I love this product for these reasons etc”.

This, she explains, adds a “level of credibility” and reinforced Adeola’s point around being meticulous when deciding which brands to collaborate with, and which products to promote.

Adeola confirmed the thorough background checks that companies conduct on their prospective talent before entering partnerships with them. Importantly she referenced those brands are looking at whether influencers have “that level of authenticity and are you compliant all the way though” your content.

What will the future look like?

Amy gave us a peek into the future of ad disclosure, touching on the current parliamentary review into compliance which she said will “reveal a lot in terms of what is coming”.

She predicted that disclosure may be needed within still images moving forward.

This, she thinks, will sit alongside the need for influencers to disclose products they have been gifted or formerly used in a paid partnership if they want to continue to include them in organic content.

For now, Vanessa said the importance of reputation is now more tangible than ever with creators risking losing the relationship they’ve built up with their followers if they are not seen to be complying.

Adeola finished by touching on the effort she is making to “pass the baton of education” with regards to transparency through sessions with talent, to ensure they are also complying with current rules.

Huge thanks to our amazing panel and everyone who tuned into the session! Watch this space for more Sofa Sessions hitting your screen in the coming months.

You can watch the session here: