On 23rd January the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced a set of guidelines for influencers. The guidance centres around transparency in influencer marketing – an issue that the industry has been plagued by for some time.

The CMA guidelines set out what influencers need to do to be transparent with their followers when working with brands.

Influencer and brand relationships

If influencers are working with brands, they must be clear about it to their followers.

  • Influencers must say when they’ve been paid, given or loaned things. This includes receiving freebies.
  • Influencers must be clear about their relationship with a brand or business. This includes past relationships too. If influencers have done paid work for, or received free products or other incentives from a brand or business within the last year, this must be made clear when the influencer refers to the brand in their content.

What influencers need to do

There is no hard-and-fast legal requirement that each piece of sponsored content must contain – the CMA has left this open to the influencer to some degree to account for the fact that social media changes and evolves so quickly. However, it does state that influencers must let their followers know when content is affiliated with a brand.

female beauty influencer

Content relating to brands must be:

  • Transparent, easy to understand, unambiguous, timely and prominent
  • Clearly apparent without the viewer having to click for further information.

You can read the full CMA guidelines to find out what is or isn’t considered acceptable.

What brands need to do

While the onus is on the influencer to make the brand relationship clear in their content, brands risk damage to their reputation if influencers they work with don’t follow the CMA guidelines.

It’s important for brands to stipulate the requirements when drawing up contracts with influencers, or when sending freebies or other items for influencers to try. This covers brands legally if influencers do flout the rules and encourages a level of professionalism and transparency within the influencer marketing industry.

Why it’s important for brands to uphold the guidelines

Advertisers and influencers rarely set out to deceive, but brands and agencies need to ensure both parties are following the guidelines to the letter. Before beginning a new relationship with any influencer, agencies must ensure that all agreements cite the CMA guidelines. This way influencers understand their responsibilities to declare the relationship, not just during the scope of work but into the future as well.