Seeing ‘#ad’ below a social media influencer’s Instagram post is commonplace, as they often promote products and services on their feeds to generate an income. The Advertising Regulatory Board (RAB), however, is proposing strict new rules for brands and influencers on social media. South African brands and influencers will now be required to clearly stipulate all ads and gift exchanges when posting about them on their social media feeds.
The proposed policy is aimed at protecting users and consumers when they are exposed to advertising via social media.
Previously, endorsement deals were available to celebrities exclusively, and in recent times, brands making use of social media personalities has increased in popularity. Although this sort of partnership is now commonplace, it does not always happen smoothly.
A recent debacle involving Volkswagen, Drive Dry and television personality and rapper, Nomuzi “Moozlie” Mabena, received widespread backlash from social media users. The advert showed Mabena as she broadcasted an Instagram Live video, followed by a jarring crash and cracked windshield.
The post was later taken down and reposted with the appropriate tags that show it is an ad campaign, but not before it was condemned for its violent and unexpected nature. This seems to be exactly the sort of backlash the RAB is looking to avoid with its newly proposed rules for social media advertisements.
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The draft policy is aimed at ensuring the protection of consumers, and the promotion of ethical conduct by brand influencers and which influencers these brands make use of.
These are a few of the proposed rules for social media advertising in terms of the ARB draft:
– Social media adverts may not contain misleading, false or deceptive content.
– Marketers must ensure that paid social media adverts are identifiable as such, by using the #AD, #Advertisement or #Sponsored.
– Claims that are made by an influencer in a post must comply with the standards of the Code of Advertising Practice, specifically Clause 10 of Section II.
“Advertisements should not contain or refer to any testimonial or endorsement unless it is genuine and related to the personal experience over a reasonable period of the person giving it,” the Clause reads.
Brands are required to provide the influencer with enough information on what they are about to endorse for sufficient understanding. Influencers must also disclose their involvement with a particular brand.
If a brand makes use of a social media parody account, it must clearly reflect in the account’s bio that it is not real.
The full draft Advertising Code of Practice Social Media Guidelines is availabe online and is open to comment until February 24 2019.