How to maintain your integrity and brand as an influencer
The new guidelines have certainly shaken up the community in the past month! It’s got us thinking a lot at WeBlogUK how much responsibility we have as individuals sharing content online.
There’s been a noticeable increase in the private member’s Facebook group in February, with members asking what they need to declare, what’s classed as an #AD and others just feeling confused and concerned that they’re gonna get a big slap on the wrist!
Before we head into our thoughts, we highly recommend you read and understand the guidelines if you can. At the bottom of this post, we’re including some great further reading links you can dive into to get clued up on the guidelines and what/how you should be disclosing.
Don't be a d*ck
As Jen Carrington says, the cream always rises to the top. It’s hard right now because the industry is still such a baby in the business world, and it’s going to take time to put regulations like this in place. It is a shame that a small amount of ‘influencers’ are being irresponsible by promoting harmful products or not disclosing paid work. This approach to a career online is fickle and fleeting.
But don’t fret - our rule for blogging and life, in general, is don’t be a d*ck. And we know you’re not a d*ck, so don’t worry - you won’t get in trouble because you have your audience’s best intentions in mind and you genuinely care about your content and the people consuming it.
Maintain your integrity and brand values as an influencer, always.
This is the tough one, especially for newer bloggers. All of us can attest to the first brand that reached out to us, and how excited we were! It can feel like you’re ready to bite their hand off with that opportunity, regardless of what it actually is. Always, always reflect on your content and (if you feel like you have one) your brand.
What do you stand for?
More importantly, what do you NOT stand for?
Is this product going to add value to your audience?
Can you naturally integrate it into the type of content you normally share?
If you’re confident that it’s a great fit, go for it and be proud to declare that #gifted or #ad. But if there’s a feeling in your gut that it isn’t right, don’t be afraid to say thanks, but no thanks! You’ll thank yourself later when the dream brands and perfect fit relationships come along. Always, always think big picture!
If in doubt, just be clear
If you’re in doubt about how to disclose a collab, just be clear and honest with your audience. The ASA isn’t going to penalise you if you’re going out of your way to be open and honest about your brand partnerships. Not only will they appreciate the lengths you go to, and I would imagine give you time to rectify anything that was awry - your audience will appreciate it as well.
I’ve definitely noticed a positive difference in my feed, just being in the knowledge of what’s been paid for, what’s been gifted and what’s an active brand relationship as opposed to a random share.
Further reading we recommend:
Nik Speller - The fundamentals of the CMAs guidelines for influencers (and why so many people seem to be struggling to grasp them)
ASA PDF - An influencer's guide to making clear that an ad is an ad (includes a helpful flowchart if you're questioning a piece of content)
Victoria (inthefrow) - The future of blogging and influencers