New Rules Revised by the ARB for Paid Partnerships on Social Media

26 April 2019. Posted in Social Media by

The Advertising Regulatory Board is proposing strict new rules for brands and influencers on social media. The proposed policy is aimed at protecting users and consumers in relation to social media advertising. South African brands and influencers will, for the first time, be required to declare ads and goods exchanges. This comes at a time where audiences are savvier and more skeptical than ever and if consumers perceive a message to be inauthentic, they will challenge and potentially boycott the brand.

Here are 8 of the key proposed rules for social media advertising in SA, in terms of a new ARB draft:

  • Social media ads must not contain deceptive, false or misleading content.
  • Messaging should be responsible and authentic.
  • Marketers should make sure paid social media ads are obviously identifiable as such. An identifier could be a hashtag such as “#AD”, “#Advertisement”, or “#Sponsored”.
  • Claims made by an influencer in a post have to comply with the standards of the Code of Advertising Practice, specifically clause 10 of section II.
  • Brands are required to provide the influencer with enough info about whatever they’re about to endorse for sufficient understanding.
  • Influencers are also expected to disclose their involvement with the particular marketer.
  • Mandatory declarations and marketing regulations which apply to certain industries must be clearly communicated to the influencer – and adhered to.
  • If a brand recruits a social media parody account, it should reflect in the account’s bio that it’s not real – “and be done in a way that would be understood by the intended audience”.

“I must be clear that they are self-regulatory solutions. The biggest thing goes around identifying paid for advertiser/influencer type content. So in other words when you have an influencer, if they were paid for that they should be identifying that they were paid for that”— Gail Schimmel, Advertising Regulatory Board CEO

What this means for influencers is unclear in this new climate, however my opinion is that this will put pressure on influencers to create content that is captivating and worth looking at without coming across as sales people. It will also challenge marketers to think out of the box when approaching influencers to collaborate with, this will require a lot of honesty from influencers/content producers. The take away from this is: to build trust with consumers as these identifiers will curb a lot of deception on social media; in and around influencership.


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