Five questions about influencer marketing

While browsing the threads of your social networks, have you ever come across the publication of an influencer who praised the merits of a product, without specifying that it was actually an advertisement? If so, you’ve certainly been the target of an influencer marketing strategy.

Advertisers are using more and more influencers to promote. No less than 93% of them use this medium often or all the time to send a message, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos Canada, the results of which were published in November 2021.

The problem is that these influencers do not always specify that they are paid to show a product or service. A study by the Regulatory Authority for Professional Advertising in France found that a quarter (26.4%) of influencer posts promoting a brand in 2020 did not indicate business links.

“If the consumer does not know that the influencer has entered into a contract and that he is paid to promote a product, he does not know when the influencer ceases to be an influencer to become an advertising agent for a brand”, says Me Clarisse N ‘kaa, lawyer by Option consommateurs and author of the study Influencer Marketing: Advertising in the Age of Social Media.

Consumers are also struggling to detect ad content from these influencers. During interviews she conducted as part of her study, Me N’kaa observed that both adults and children had difficulty distinguishing between “authentic” influencer posts and those that are paid.

1. Why are brands using influencer marketing?

Influencers attract a large audience and get their followers to change their behavior. A study from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania found that by offering quality content, influencers can earn the trust of their followers. By demonstrating authenticity, you can strengthen these bonds and, at the same time, your influence.

Result: influencers are very attractive to brands that want to promote their products and services.

2. Does an influencer have the obligation to specify their links with a company? If you receive products and services without requesting them, must you demonstrate the same transparency?

Yes. The Competition Office emphasizes that an influencer must disclose the benefits they get from a brand, be it a financial contribution, free products and services, discounts, travel, or tickets to attend an event.

“If the influencer does not say so, there is information that is not disclosed and this could be associated with misleading advertising,” says Me Clarisse N’kaa.

3. How do you recognize a post that is part of an influencer marketing strategy?

If the influencer opens a box to discover products, it is a sign of an influencer marketing strategy. The same is true if you offer a promotional code or if you launch a contest. You can also take control (take over) of the brand’s social media for a specified period or participate in its special events by announcing it publicly.

At the bottom of your posts, the influencer may have added hashtags. Mentions such as #pub, # sponsored, #partenariat, #brand and #ambassadeur confirm the existence of a commercial agreement.

“The #pub hashtag is used when the brand exercises some editorial control over the content,” Me N’kaa explains. By using the # sponsored keyword, the influencer may have received compensation from the brand, but [celle-ci] did not exercise editorial control. “

The influencer can also use the advertising function of social networks to indicate that their publication is the result of a commercial agreement.

4. Has an influencer ever been convicted of false advertising?

In Canada, no influencer has been reprimanded by a court for failing to reveal their business ties. “But if cases have been heard in other jurisdictions, chances are high that it will happen here,” Me N’kaa warns.

Legislation prohibits misleading advertising in Quebec and Canada. The Competition Law prohibits any person from “giving to the public, knowingly or without taking into account the consequences, false or misleading representations.” In Quebec, provision 219 of the Consumer Protection Act emphasizes that an advertiser cannot “make a false or misleading representation of a consumer.”

5. What are the solutions?

According to Option consommateurs, governments should give clear guidelines to avoid any confusion around influencer marketing and allow internet users to recognize it without a shadow of a doubt. Advertising standards provide guidelines, but they are not binding.

Germany, for example, has ruled that the simple hashtag #ad is not enough. Influencers should add the words “advertising” or “display” in German to their message.

Platforms can help too. Clarisse N’kaa cites the case of the United Kingdom, which reached an agreement with Facebook to identify influencers who do not reveal their commercial ties thanks to a technological device.

Finally, you need to educate and inform consumers, young and old, about the complexities of influencer marketing.

>> To read also: Beware of offers that are too good to be true and social networks: do influencers tell you everything?


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