Sponsored posts: Influencers, don’t forget to include #Ad

14th Apr 2021

Social media can be credited for creating incredible new ways of doing business. Brands can now make themselves known to newer audiences with just a few taps and even sell products with little geographic restrictions.

Becoming a brand ambassador and being paid to promote certain products is now a very commonplace practice among social media personalities with significant following. Influencers are rarely seen as businesspeople; but still, their promotions – however casual these may be – are, in every sense, an economic activity. Bizarre as it may sound, every communication to the public by influencers needs to comply with consumer protection rules such as the Unfair Business-to-Consumers Commercial Practices Law (L. 103(I)/2007 transposing Directive 2005/29/EC) and advertising standards codes enforced by self-regulatory organisations like the Cyprus Advertising Regulation Organisation. If not, consumer protection agencies, as well as advertising control bodies may issue decisions against practices that violate such rules which could lead to significant reputational damage – in addition to potential monetary sanction.

Best practices for sponsored posts:

To minimise the risk of misinformation, influencers and brand owners should make sure to:

  • Use sponsorship markings that are recognisable by audiences as signifying sponsorship. For example, #sponsored and #ad may be widely recognisable, while #affiliate or #aff may be less so. Using the sponsorship disclosure tools of social media platforms would work greatly for this.
  • Make markings visible. Using a small font or a colour shade that makes the marking indistinguishable from the rest of the post will not be accepted as sufficient marking.
  • Mark all communications. Including a marking in a post but not in a story is not likely to make the cut. Likewise, mentioning a marketing relationship with a brand, even if this is an influencer-owned brand, in a bio, is unlikely to be sufficient.

Social media platforms provide great new economic opportunities. The uptake of these opportunities should be facilitated – and certainly not hampered – by law. If you would like further information on online branding and other related legal issues, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experienced team would be happy to help.

[Article by associate Orestis Anastasiades]

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