Paid-for Social & Review Strategies Placed Under the Spotlight

Paid-for Social & Review Strategies Placed Under the Spotlight

Just recently, there’s been a crackdown on the transparency of paid-for advertising on social, and how companies are implementing their review strategies, with two companies being made public examples by the CMA.

The first company specialises in advertising on social media and were questioned due to their malpractice surrounding paid-for advertising. The second was a commercial enterprise who were found to be cherry picking favourable reviews with staff being instructed not to display reviews with less than 4 stars.

The social media marketing company, between March and July 2015, ran 19 marketing campaigns with a combined reach of 4 million and were found not to be informing readers about the posts being paid-for advertising. The CMA has since written to 15 clients and 43 social media personalities associated with the business.

The damage to both companies due to the action has not been published but one can imagine that clients and customers alike will now view them differently given the breach in trust – affecting brand loyalty – and ultimately the bottom line.

But influencer paid-for advertising is a method which does not appear to be going anywhere soon, reflected in both our experience with brands, and recent research conducted by Takumi:

  • 82% of PR and marketing professionals are using influencers in one form or another
    average £6,000 being spent on a single influencer campaign
    average of seven campaigns per year*

Therefore, the need for best practice and a broad understanding of the regulations and laws surrounding online marketing is ever present.

To help businesses and influencers, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) has recently published three guidelines concerning online reviews and endorsements for review administrators, traders and marketers, and digital influencers.

Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement, has spoken about the recent issues and the reasoning behind the need for enforcement and the new guidelines:

“Social media personalities can have an important influence on people’s views, especially young people. It is therefore crucial that when people decide what to buy, they should not be misled by adverts on social media that read like independent opinions. Businesses, marketing companies and authors of online content all need to play their role in ensuring that advertising is clearly labelled as such.

It is also important that, when consumers read reviews on a company’s website, they are given the complete picture. Critical reviews must be published as well as those that praise the company’s products and services.

Since we published our call for information on online reviews and endorsements in June 2015, the CMA has secured changes from 15 companies and individuals and published wider compliance advice. Online reviews and opinions are an increasingly useful source of information for people in making their buying choices – and so are an important element of effective competition in the market – and businesses must comply with consumer law so that consumers can trust the opinions they read online”.

If you feel like you need further advice or support on the issues raised in this article, all you need to do is contact me: angelg@rbh.co.uk, and I’ll connect you with one of our team of experts.

*Takumi, 2016

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