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Why Disclosure Honesty is the Best Policy in Your Influencer Content

Does disclosure in your influencer content give you the ick? I get it. There can be a lot of reasons for this – wanting to do everything you can to keep engagement high, pressure from the brand not to use #ad or #sponcon hashtags, you may not know when and how to properly disclose. Or maybe, you just forgot.

The thing is though, once only the big celebrities were a target of governing bodies. They could hit them with eye-watering fines and get some good media coverage at the same time. Now, you’re the target. And, a pretty easy one at that because sometimes a governing body will simply run a targeted campaign to ask for influencers to be dobbed in for non-disclosure.

There is an expectation if you’re going to be working in the space as an influencer, you understand the basic compliance requirements of your job. It’s your responsibility to stay informed on disclosure requirements in your country.

Disclosure is not only a legal requirement but it plays a big role in the trust equation too. This means, if you’re not trustworthy, you’re less likely to grow your audience, have meaningful engagement and be booked by brands.

What does this all mean for you as an influencer working on brand campaigns?

Influencer Disclosure and Trustworthiness

Last week, I discussed influencer trustworthiness in detail. So, I’ll only recap on by saying:

  1. listen back on that episode, it’s important!
  2. there’s a crucial link between disclosure and trustworthiness. The TLDR on this is that disclosure = trustworthiness = brand work and audience engagement.

That’s our objective, right? To build and engage our audience, to attract more brand work, to increase our income. Influencers who consistently disclosure sponsorships are more likely to be viewed as trustworthy and honest, which will engage your audience, which will lead to more brand work. Easy.

Disclosure in Influencer Brand Collaborations

Righto, let’s look at campaigns and why disclosure in brand collaborations is important:

  • Positive Impact of Disclosure on Collaborations: Transparency in influencer-brand collaborations leads to stronger, more credible partnerships. When influencers openly disclose brand relationships, it enhances the brand’s reputation for honesty and integrity. Brands want this! They’re relying on you to convey positive sentiment about them in your content.
  • Case Study of Successful Transparent Campaigns: When we look at successful influencer campaigns where transparency was key, clear disclosure usually leads to increased sales and brand trust. That’s a win for you and the brand.
  • Trust as a Foundation for Long-Term Partnerships: We also know that emerging influencer trends for 2024 mean that brands are going to increasingly look for long-term collaborations with influencers. So, if you have a history of transparent disclosures, as it builds a foundation of trust for the brand in working with you.
  • Legal Implications of Non-Disclosure: Just last month, a major tourism body was caught out by engaging high profile local and international influencers to publish content which was not correctly disclosed. This was in breach of the country’s advertising standards and consumer laws and corrective measures had to be taken. Also, embarrassing media coverage resulted for the influencers as well as the brand.
  • Audience Backlash from Non-Disclosure: You know it goes beyond legal implication and bad media. Cancel culture is strong. When you don’t do the right thing with disclosure, there’s a chance that’s going to blow back on you, as well as the brand. Will you bounce back? Maybe, by why risk it?

Governing Authorities and Regulation Sweeps on Influencers

We know that last month the FTC sent letters to influencers and put them on the hook for fines of up to $50,000 – with just 15 days to respond regarding disclosure and compliance.

That same month, in Australia, the ACCC released a report stating that 81% of the influencers they scrutinised raised concerns about their conduct.  Those sweeps are happening in many countries and other countries are also stepping up their regulatory oversight.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK and similar bodies in other countries have been implementing stricter guidelines and taking action against non-compliant influencers, showing a global trend towards more transparency in influencer marketing.

The tolerance for non-disclosure has gone and patience for non- compliance has run out.

The industry governing bodies aren’t simply going for the celebrities. They’re looking at you, the everyday influencer. And, they’re potentially engaging with your audience and your competitors to ask them to dob you in for non-compliance.

If you’re not sure of your obligations, join us for discussion in the MOOTS Facebook Group to build your skills in this space.

Best Practices for Influencers for Effective Disclosure

Make your influencer disclosure statement clear and noticeable!

🔍 Place disclosures at the beginning of a post or video to ensure visibility. For example, using clear statements like “Sponsored by [Brand Name]” or “#Ad” at the start of a caption or video.

📱 Use Platform Features for Disclosure: For instance, Instagram’s “Paid Partnership” feature, YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” tag, and TikTok’s sponsored content labels all support disclosure transparency.

💬 Language and Clarity: Use simple, straightforward language for disclosures. Avoid jargon or ambiguous terms that might confuse the audience about the nature of the endorsement.

🔄 Consistency in Disclosure Style: Consider maintaining a consistent style for disclosures across all posts and platforms to help your audience quickly recognize sponsored content.

Transparency and disclosure is not just a legal obligation, but also plays an important role in building and maintaining trust with your audience and potential brand partners. By embracing good disclosure practices, you’ll manage your legal risk and enhance your credibility. That deserves a gold star!

Listen in to The Business Of Influence Podcast Episode 28 – The Importance of Disclosure in Your Influencer Content for expanded discussion on this topic.