Use Your Influence: The ASA and What You Need to Know

               

As exciting as it is, beginning to work as an influencer that partners with brands in a paid capacity also comes with its complexities. This is, largely, because even once you have agreed to produce or share content commissioned by a brand, there’s a bulging bag of regulations to navigate courtesy of the ASA (in the UK, other regulators are available!).

Because knowing how ASA guidelines work and affects you is a hugely important part of being an influencer, we’ve elected to write a quick blog to act as a crash course, and tell you exactly how to stay on the right side of them…

What is the ASA concerned with in this context?

Essentially, when it comes to sponsored or commissioned content, the ASA requires that it must be clearly disclosed as such. To put it another way, if you’ve been commissioned to create content, you should let your audience know. This is how the ASA describes the type of content that must be identified:

“An advertisement feature, announcement or promotion, the content of which is controlled by the marketer, not the publisher, that is disseminated in exchange for a payment or other reciprocal arrangement.”

So if you are working with a brand to produce content of any kind, you should say so. This requirements extends even to something as small as a single photo on social media, if a brand has commissioned you to post it. If you’re interested in reading the long version of the ASA guidelines, find it here.

How can you mark content as sponsored?

Influencers use many different phrases and formats to identify when they have been asked to produce sponsored content. Ways in which to do it also vary from blog and vlog content to social media posts. Here are a few example soundbites that may be useful:

For blogs and vlogs:

  • “Produced in collaboration with [brand]”
  • “This content is sponsored by [brand]”
  • “This piece was inspired by [particular aspect or article on brand]”
  • “Thank you to [brand] for the inspiration for this post”
  • “This piece was produced in conjunction with [brand]”

For social content:

  • #ad
  • #advert
  • #advertisement
  • #paidfor
  • #supportedby[brand]

Whereas don’t use #sp, #spon as these have been ruled as not clear enough.

Make sure that your disclosures are ‘timely’

This refers to when you call out your content as sponsored. For example, if you wait until the very end of your piece to mention that it was actually sponsored by a brand, this is considered to be a little too late, as the reader/viewer will have already digested the contents before being made aware of their source. This won’t be too much of a problem if you employ common sense and are proud to display your brand affiliations. After all, if you believe in the brand and its core values, and have talked about it in an authentic and genuine way, why wouldn’t you want to be associated with it?

Are there any exceptions to the disclosure rule?

In a word, yes, but they are few. Basically, the only time you are exempt from having to mention a brand when you are creating content that involves them, is when the content is deemed to be your own opinions, editorial and/or news. This largely manifests itself in things like reviews – if you happen to be trying out a restaurant/hotel/product of your own volition and are not attempting to sell it, you don’t have to mark the content as sponsored. If a brand has asked you to review a product and you include an affiliate or ‘salesy’ link or call-to-action however, it’s gotta be disclosed.

Final thoughts…

Of course, this is quite the whirlwind tour around the often tricky-to-navigate guidelines and rules of the ASA, and should not be taken as gospel. Use our post as a starting point, and then be sure to swing by the ASA’s website to register and read for yourself, and be sure you are checking the regulations for your own country (easy mistake to make we hear!)