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How Far Do Influencer Partnership Guidelines Really Extend?

Oct 18, 2023

News Article

How Far Do Influencer Partnership Guidelines Really Extend?

The lines between a creator/brand partnership have always read a little blurry. 

To help focus them, the Advertising Standards Association has clearly outlined what is expected of both creators and brands, in previous years.

But has this rule enforcement proved successful?

This debate was recently sparked after the rebuke of hotel group, Accor, for failing to ensure that Lydia Millen’s TikTok post about her stay at the Savoy Hotel was made identifiable as an ad.

Let’s delve into what went down and what the ASA’s reprimand of a seemingly innocent mistake now means for the future of influencer partnership guidelines.

influencer partnership guidelines

A breach of contract or an honest mistake?

Under a Fairmont Ambassadorship, Millen had an agreement with The Savoy to post two Instagram Stories per stay across two of her five stays at the hotel. Despite the terms of the contract outlining content creation for Instagram, Millen was pulled up for her TikTok content published around the same time as one of her agreed stays. 

In this TikTok, Millen alluded to one of her stays at The Savoy being for an “annual Christmas shopping trip” and invited her followers to comment which of the two outfits she tried on was best suited for a theatre trip that evening. 

You’ve guessed it. The stay alluded to in the TikTok was part of the agreed stay in the contract. 

Cue the scandal. 

Despite Accor’s best efforts to combat this by stating that only Instagram content mentioning the Accor brand, Fairmont or other associated hotels was covered in the terms of the contract, the ASA fought back by stating that TikTok content posted around the same time as the Instagram ad was only further exposure likely to benefit The Savoy. 

The ASA’s ruling resulted in the removal of Millen’s post from TikTok and further warning on ensuring future ads appertaining to all influencer partnership guidelines.

This clampdown was just one in a string of influencer-related posts rebuked by the ASA for being labelled as misleading content. The ASA has continuously warned influencers that they will receive sanctions if they fail to be compliant with their influencer partnership guidelines.

But how much of the blame should we really be placing on the shoulders of the influencers?

Social media strategist and member of the Llama Travel Company, Marta Safin, believes that brands yield just as much responsibility as the “named and shamed” influencers, warning brands to “treat influencers as they would any other form of paid marketing” as “a little bit of knowledge could save a lot of grief”. 

Safin’s perspective nods to the wider discussion surrounding the future of influencer partnerships guidelines and how much responsibility brands have when it comes to complying with the rules. 

Influencer partnerships within the travel industry are only set to grow. With this growth, Safin advises travel brands to educate themselves on what is and isn’t permissible within the current rules laid out by the ASA. From here, these influencer partnership guidelines should be outlined in the influencer’s brief to ensure they are clear on how they should comply when creating content. 

What should brands do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

It’s no secret that preventing future disputes all comes down to clear communication throughout the running of your influencer partnerships. 

Communicating your goals and the guidelines to which the influencer-in–question is expected to adhere is crucial. Failing to start a campaign off on the right foot could mean a rocky road when it comes to the implementation of PR activity. 

As the first port of call, it is the responsibility of the brand to detail the influencer partnership guidelines to the creator in the initial brief. Influencer partnerships are unique in the sense that they are extremely flexible and can often be revised to suit the needs and wants of the creator-in-question. This fosters conversation which can be used to put right any confusion or misunderstandings before PR activity gets underway.

Similarly, influencers also have a responsibility to read the details of the contracts they are entering into to ensure the avoidance of a breach. In the case of Millen and Accor group, it seems this may have been the case. While it was an honest mistake, it nods to the carelessness taken in the finer details of the contract. 

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to receive our industry insights, visit our Influencer Marketing & Social Media blogs here.

@ Socially Powerful

 

Author

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Ella Proctor

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