Social media endorsements: guide for influencers

Following on from our blog last year on paid promotions, the Competition and Markets Authority has recently published some detailed guidance for influencers when endorsing a product or service on social media. This is to make it clear to followers when you have been paid, incentivised or rewarded to review something. This applies even if it has been given to you for free.

Key guidance

  • State when you have been paid: Any form of reward (money, gifts or loan of the product) is classed as a payment. This includes items you have asked for as well as anything sent out of the blue (freebies).
  • Be clear about your relationship with a brand: you must be transparent on your current or past relationship (within a year) with a company.
  • Don’t be misleading: you cannot give the impression that you are just a consumer when you are acting for business purposes on behalf of a brand or that you bought something when it was given to you as a gift. If you are promoting something which you have not used first hand, make sure it is clear that any claims or opinions are not yours.
  • Disclose up front: the endorsement must be apparent without the need to click for more information on the post.

What should you write in an endorsed post?

The CMA takes the view that ‘Advertisement Feature’ or ‘Advertisement Promotion’, are useful descriptions. But other wording, (including #Ad, #Advert) and using the ‘Paid Partnership’ tool on Instagram in addition to these hashtags, convey the appropriate messages simply and effectively. If you have relationships with several brands or businesses featured in the same post, make sure you state all of them.

What not to do

Here are some examples of posts which do not comply with the legal requirements:

  • Tagging a brand, business or gift in either the text, picture and/or video of a post without additional disclosure
  • Using discount codes in a post without additional disclosure
  • Using ambiguous language without additional disclosure in a post (‘thank you’, ‘made possible by’, ‘in collaboration with’)
  • Unclear use of hashtags: #sp, #spon, #client, #collab etc.
  • Adding #ad directly after the name of the brand or business (for example #[BRANDNAME]ad)
  • Hiding the disclosure at the end of or among other text and/or hashtags
  • Product placement where there is an associated (and undisclosed) payment or other incentives
  • Disclosing the commercial affiliation only on an influencer’s front, home or profile page

If you mislead your followers, you may be breaking consumer protection law. You could face enforcement action from the CMA or local authority Trading Standards services.

Find out more

If you have any questions or concerns please get in touch with one of our team.