Brands encouraging influencers to flout transparency rules in paid campaigns

A large majority of social influencers in the UK are unaware of the rules around declaring paid-for campaigns, and a small but significant minority are being pressured by brands not to declare their commercial deals.

(Credit: Tanja Cappell via Flickr)
(Credit: Tanja Cappell via Flickr)

Under the CAP Code, which is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, social media personalities being paid by a brand to promote its products through a social channel should include a signpost such as the hashtags #sp, #spon, #ad in posts.

However, just 22 per cent of influencers always do this, with a further 37 per cent saying they sometimes do this, while 41 per cent never do it. This is according to a survey by the app Takumi, which connects brands and influencers, of 53 influencers with which it had worked.

While the number of influencers who never signposted their posts as part of a sponsored campaign was relatively low, the number of influencers unaware of the CAP Code was high – with just 18 per cent familiar with the code, and the rest saying they either were unaware, or were not sure whether or not they were aware.

Of those influencers who said they did not signpost, 52 per cent said that this was because they did not think it was necessary and 45 per cent said they felt it "affects the authenticity" of their posts. One in eight (13 per cent) said they did not get as much engagement on those sponsored posts, and the same number again said the brands they worked with "don't like me using them".

Among those who did comply with the signposting requirement, three-fifths said that they complied because they thought it was important to be transparent, and a third because brands they worked with insisted on it.

An earlier study from Takumi found that six in 10 marketing and PR professionals flouted the CAP Code, while the PRCA has called on the PR profession to be proactive in understanding and engaging with the rules.

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