'Rewarding bad behaviour' - nearly half of PR pros don't follow influencer rules

Just under half of PR professionals and marketers in the UK are failing to adhere to official guidelines around influencer marketing, a study has found.

Influencer PewDiePie boasts more than 55 million subscribers on YouTube
Influencer PewDiePie boasts more than 55 million subscribers on YouTube

However, there has been a significant rise in the number of people saying that they do abide by influencer marketing guidelines set out by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).

The survey of 600 industry professionals shows that 54 per cent of PRs and marketers are following guidelines from the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code - compared with just 37 per cent when the same question was asked last year.

The survey was commissioned by Takumi, an app that connects brands and influencers. Takumi co-founder Mats Stigzelius said PRs, marketers and brands were becoming "more and more savvy" when working with influencers and content creators.

Stigzelius said: "Whereas before there was a certain amount of confusion with regards to the guidelines, the research has shown that there is a greater awareness on how to get the most out of influencer marketing and what the guidelines are."

The guidelines, enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), suggest when and why content should be signposted as advertising. This is typically done by adding hashtags such as #sp #ad #spon to posts on social media. The ASA has intervened in a number of cases where such disclosures were not made.

Stigzelius said: "If influencers notice that they no longer receive campaign opportunities because they are not signposting their sponsored posts properly, they will quickly follow suit. Likewise, if brands continue to work with influencers who do not follow the guidelines, they are in effect rewarding bad behaviour. So brands have a lot of power to change how influencers behave."

Not made to measure

According to the survey, 65 per cent of marcoms professionals work with influencers as part of their PR and marketing strategies. 

Of the 35 per cent who do not, 33 per cent said this was because it was difficult to "effectively measure" the results of influencer marketing, while 17 per cent said their clients did not see the benefit of using influencers, the survey shows.

The survey also shows 75 per cent of comms pros agree that full transparency is essential when working with influencers and signposting sponsored content.

Stigzelius told PRWeek the marketers who "do not believe in transparency" have that view because they do not fully appreciate what the guidelines are.

"And perhaps they also worry that correct signposting of paid posts diminishes the engagement of those posts - so again, educating them that this is not the case would alleviate any fears they may have and make them more likely to adopt the correct signposting," Stigzelius added.

Read next: Fake influencers are now outsmarting the industry - and it's our own fault

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