With the recent news that bloggers and social media influencers will soon have to disclose they’ve been paid to promote certain products, brand marketers are now faced with a new set of guidelines to follow.
According to Advertising Standards Canada, the organization who will be enacting the guidelines in the coming months, authenticity has lost its place in social marketing, and consumers deserve better.
What might these changes look like? If Canada follows the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, implemented in the U.S in 2009, social media users’ disclosures must be made clear and conspicuous, not buried in a bunch of #hashtags consumers are bound to miss.
And the FTC isn’t shy to penalize companies who do not follow these rules either. According to a recent Bloomberg article, companies such as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. and Lord & Taylor were hit with fines for not disclosing the fact they paid influencers to promote their products. According to the FTC, any compensation – including free products, should be disclosed.
For companies like Social Nature, these rulings will have next to no impact on our business. In fact, since our beginning, we have asked our community members to share the fact they’ve received free product (s) in-exchange for their reviews. Our FAQS give them the ‘what and how’.
By amplifying their authentic reviews across social, reaching their peers and more peers, we’re able to give brand marketers not just an honestly good platform to drive awareness, but one that’s completely aligned with today’s landscape where word-of-mouth referrals (not ads) are the driving force behind consumer sales:
- 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions [Ogilvy/Google/TNS];
- 84% of consumers reported always or sometimes taking action based on personal recommendations;
- And 70% said they did the same of online consumer opinions. [Nielsen]
Regardless of how other marketers interpret these changes, there’s no denying the power of social media to connect people to people, people to brands.
By relying less on paid endorsements and more on authentic, word-of-mouth marketing, we can achieve honestly good business, with no rules to conform to otherwise.