Until now, influencer ‘content’ has operated in a rather nebulous area. People who consume a lot of it are usually savvy to paid vs ‘organic' content - but those who dip in and out might genuinely think that someone’s clear skin really is a result of collagen and not a face filter, or that Aimn makes the best workout gear (both of these may still be true, no judgement).
Personalities like Makaia Carr and Pebbles Hooper have long lobbied for change to the industry and often publicly call out influencers like Simone Anderson for what they see as a lack of transparency.
In July, four complaints about Anderson's Instagram posts were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - the first decision of its kind against a social media influencer.
So will new guidelines settle things once and for all? It’s all here, in black and white, in new influencer guidelines issued by the ASA this week.
The rules will apply to all ad content posted from September 14 2020, and all content that is intended for New Zealanders (i.e. it doesn't matter if the influencer is based in or outside of New Zealand).
The ASA's code outlines that:
· If you’re gifted something, it’s an ad and needs to be disclosed as such. Gone are the days of #sp and #PRsample. Those hashtags may be used, but they're optional add ons rather than full disclosure.
· Your AD, advertisement or advert disclosure must be clear i.e. not in tiny font in the same colour as the background snuck into the corner of a Story. It has be clear and visible to all.
· Your AD must be disclosed on every Story, and every post. And must be written rather than verbal, for followers who view social media with the sound down.
· Any gift (beauty products, clothing, homewares, childrenswear, interiors, etc.) and any service (facials, hair extensions, gym sessions, teeth whitening, Botox, reiki sessions, etc.) must be clearly disclosed as an AD.
· By ASA guidelines, anyone is an influencer if they have a social platform with any followers. "An Influencer is a broad term used to describe people who have influence over the choice, opinion or behaviour of their followers. An Influencer is someone who has access to an audience (regardless of size)."
What does this mean for Ensemble? Not much! We operate a pretty black and white space. Our editorial is just that, something we take pride in (our beauty reviews do feature PR sample product but this is and always will be declared). We’ve never been fans of blurred lines and welcome a system of full transparency for all.
But is there room for even more to be done in this area? The UK is looking at a proposed law that would make celebrities and influencers clearly label any photoshopped or filtered pictures as ‘edited’.
The MP who has suggested the bill has been quoted as saying, "Edited photos on Instagram are fuelling a mental health crisis because they’re creating a warped sense of beauty".
Do you follow influencer marketing? Do you think the law change will impact how you consume this ‘content’? We would love to hear your feedback.