Brands and Influencers need to get a whole lot more transparent when commercial ‘click for like’ interests are involved, with new industry guidelines coming into force on 1 March. In this two part series, we’ve got some tips for Brands in how to avoid falling foul of the fake news trap.
1. Start with the belief that involving influencers in brand campaigns is legitimate and expected. No need to talk in hushed tones or keep hidden but be open about involvement and why. Many businesses already do this, with the Code helping to set this as industry standard.
2. Develop guiding principles for your brand. Whether you are a small business or a large one, jot down why it makes sense for you to work with influencers, and also what rules you will operate by (and ask of influencers) to ensure transparency. Share this with customers and staff and make sure all understand and sing from the same songsheet when fielding questions from customers and friends. Large businesses do this already but less so smaller ones.
3. Create visible cues as part of your campaign: How will you make sponsored content highly visible – from consistent hashtags eg #ad #sponsored #gifted #promotion #invited – to your own buzzwords, imagery email marketing. Be creative. Be consistent.
4. Become your customer. How would you customers feel if they didn’t know you had a commercial arrangement with an influencer? Keep your campaigns genuine and real. This probably means that you wont limit yourself to the AANA rules alone but apply across the board.
5. Practice the rule of seven. Plan for seven times that you can declare a specific commercial interest with an influencer to your customers and importantly why it makes sense – from website to social channels to newsletters. Make sure the influencer does same.
6. Work it out in partnership with both influencers and also PRs / third parties – and expect two way transparency. If you are working directly with an influencer, be clear on your expectations of them. Better still, work out together how you can meet the requirements of the code and expectations on transparency in a way that makes most sense for both of you.
7. Don’t be limited by the AANA rules. An influencer is invited to attend a dinner at a restaurant for free on a no strings basis / no specified quid pro quo – this is not strictly in breach of the AANA code. But is it relevant to future customers to know that influencers attended the event for free? Probably. And what about products sent out as free stuff? That too. Paying for followers? Yeah, pretty much. Think about it from the perspective of your customers and people who matter to you – and keep it genuine, transparent and real.