State content is SPONSORED or pay the price, here’s what need to know

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So what exactly is a sponsored article?

Sponsored articles are very different from your normal article.  They’re paid for.

Although the terms may differ on various platforms, an article or content that an advertiser pays for or incentivizes for publication requires the publisher to indicate that the article was sponsored.

The content features brand promotion or a campaign and by law should be clearly indicated in an effort to avoid misrepresentation.

According to Section 41 of the Consumer Protection Act, a supplier must not fail to correct an apparent misrepresentation on the part of the consumer.

Therefore when an influencer fails to disclose that the content posted is sponsored they can be held liable for such non-disclosure.

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) defines Advertisement as:

“Any direct or indirect visual or oral communication transmitted by any medium, or any representation or reference written, inscribed, recorded, encoded upon or embedded within any medium, by means of which a person seeks to

bring to the attention of all or part of the public –
(i) the existence or identity of a supplier; or

(ii) the existence, nature, availability, properties, advantages or uses of any goods or services that are available for supply, or the conditions on, or prices at, which any goods or services are available for supply;

(b) promote the supply of any goods or services; or

(c) promote any cause;”

The short version

Sponsored content is considered as advertising according to the Consumer Protection Act meaning influencers have a duty to disclose that they are being sponsored for posting certain content.

Paid partnership

Instagram has been one platform that has answered the call for duty and responsibility on the part of influencers when sponsored.

Their paid partnership tab forces influencers to disclose their sponsored content, which intern allows other users to see whether the content is sponsored or not.

While some influencers may be paid thousands for sponsored content on social media, it has come to light that regulation plays a pivotal role in holding brands including influencers responsible.

Social Media Code of Conduct 

A Social Media Code of Conduct exists and it would be ideal for all influencers to familiarise themselves with it.

The code is intended to provide a clear set of rules around social media marketing, brands, publishers, and influencers.

The code serves to ensure full transparency where advertisers are required to disclose if content falls part of a social media advertising campaign as opposed to pure organic social media posts.

Words such as Promoted tweet on Twitter, pard partnership on Instagram, or Sponsored post on Facebook are key identifiers that clearly indicated that the influencer or publisher is advertising content.

The code states:

Social Media Advertising must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers or business practices (by commission or omission).  Messaging should be responsible and accurate. Social Media parody accounts should be clearly declared within the account’s description or bio. It should clearly indicate that the user is not affiliated with the subject of the account, including, for example, by incorporating a word such as (but not limited to)”parody,” “fake,” “fan” or “commentary,” and be done in such a way that would be reasonably understood by the intended audience.

All this is done to reinforce the influencer or publisher’s integrity while allowing the consumer to make an informed opinion of the content, product, or service.

In short, influencers need to declare or disclose their involvement with the brand or marketer as per section 4 of the code.

Consumers can lodge a complaint against the influencer if they do not disclose a post was sponsored.

A good place to start is the Advertising Regulatory Board.

The simple rule

The simple rule is “if you receive anything in return for making a post, whether it’s money or something else we would pull the ad,” according to Gail Shimmel, CEO of the Advertising Regulatory Board.

Influencers must adhere to the rules of the advertising code, to not mislead.

This can be achieved by adding a hashtag Ad or a hashtag sponsored.

Schimmel while coaching up-and-coming TikTok content creators at a workshop said the ARB’s role was reactive, which meant they only acted when they received a complaint.

Also read: WATCH: Here’s how the Huawei Innovation Centre launch fills the digital gap

Featured image: laptop apple sergey zolkin/unsplash



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