30 March 2017

The 5 things to know about the new AANA social influencer laws

Written by: Nick Barraclough, Community Manager at Edelman

General

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So by now you’ve probably heard about the new Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) influencer laws, which is an amendment to a current law for celebrities and “influencers” on TV, radio and print but never on social media, until now.

 

This post is not an outline of how to use influencers, so if you haven’t read Paulie Linton’s blog post on “Why you should be ‘fashionably late on spending money on trends”, do yourself a favour and give it a read to brush up on influence vs influencers.

 

The amendment to the law has been put in place to combat those on social media who post false information about a product or brand, to the point where some influencers/bloggers accept payment to post about a product without having even tried the product, or even writing the endorsement themselves.

 

Below are 5 things from the AANA laws to know if you’re engaging an ‘influencer’ on social:

  1. An influencer isn’t determined by follower base

If you are engaging and transacting with anyone to convey a message on behalf of your business, they will need to disclose that they are doing so, or both parties will be liable to fines. Social influencers are no longer restricted to the Kim Kardashians of the world.

  1. Payment isn’t restricted to money

So, you have a business that sells candy bars, you reach out to a few influencers and send them free product asking them to post about how much they love the bar and use your hashtag. If you don’t classify this as payment, then you’re wrong. This is an exchange of reward and the ‘influencer’ must disclose that the post was paid for.

  1. You don’t have to put a # on it

Notice an increase in #ad on social channels? As I write this there are over 3.5 million tags on Instagram posts. So is this necessary? Short answer is no. If the copy makes it obvious that the influencer was paid, or is speaking on behalf of the brand and the post is not misleading to the applicable audience members, then you’re in the clear.

  1. This is a law, not a guideline

This point is rather self-explanatory, this amendment is not a guideline, it is the law, meaning if you’re in breach of the new rules then you will be eligible for a fine (up to $1.1million for brands) or stricter punishments.

  1. What if the Influencer goes rogue?

These new rules are not just for the influencer’s protection, but also for the brand’s. Some of you may recall the case of Essena O’Neil, a beauty/lifestyle influencer, who after agreeing to post certain content, ended up going back and changing all the copy on her posts to negatively talk about the brands who paid her to post. Luckily for Essena this was before the new laws, so she was let off the hook without prosecution.

If you have a signed contract with the influencer on scripted copy or even strong suggestions for copy, that they have agreed to, then they go rogue, they can be prosecuted under the new laws (and fined up to $220,000 for an individual). A contract is something that should always be sought after, even to outline best practices for both parties.

 

So even though there is a new law in place, there isn’t too much that needs to change for brands. The above list is best practice to ensure that your brand stays within the law when engaging and transacting with an influencer, no matter how big or small the activation may be.

 

For any additional information on the AANA law amendments they can be found HERE.

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