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Ayush Shukla

As the content economy expands multi-fold and more consumers are entering the industry, the producers now have more responsibility for their quality of content. Social media marketing or influencer marketing is not just enabling brands to reach out to their online consumer base but also ensuring quicker results.

Celebrity endorsements on television are a thing of the past now. With the pandemic kicking in and us realising the power of social media, brands now find it more useful to market through the same. On the other hand, the possible career stream of “Content Creator” has taken off with numerous people becoming digital influencers, producing valuable content, and influencing the audience in its real sense. 

But when the gap between brands and influencers narrows, the line between advertisements and content has become blurry. Well-defined rules and structure of the content is important to avoid disputes. Here are a few things the influencer must comply to-


The disclosure that the piece of information is an advertisement lets the audience decide for themselves their opinion on the product/service. An average consumer should be able to recognise that something is an advertisement without having to click or interact with the post. It needs to be obvious and prominent, and consumers shouldn’t have to work to figure out whether what they are hearing, viewing or experiencing is an advertisement. The influencers can use the platform tools to label the ad as an ad, eg using hashtags- #ad. #collab, #promo, #sponsored, #partnership are the only ones to be used for advertisement. Disclosing the collab comes with the responsibility of sharing the onus of the posts in case of a consumer complaint.

Transparency while promotion 

It is crucial that the influencer exercises transparency in terms of the product review and not exaggerate the brand’s claim. For example, using filters while promoting a beauty or skincare brand. This is not just illegal, but also harms the respect, credibility, and brand value of the influencer itself. The success of the brand and the influencer will depend on the audience’s trust in them and being transparent will only increase this trust over time. 

Due diligence

The influencer must verify with the advertisers about the claims based on which the influencer promotes the product. Is what the influencer posting really true? Is it true that the xyz beauty product’s effect lasts for a month? Or that the delivery is the fastest speed, or India's top most brokerage app? These are not just titles that are irreversible but also specific. Evidence of due diligence would include correspondence with the advertiser or brand owner confirming that the specific claim made in the advertisement is capable of scientific substantiation.

Reflect honest opinions 

Most often influencers do not have the time to research the product, or the company, but they jump into the bandwagon of promoting the product because it is paying well and all other influencers are doing it. The influencers need to select a brand which interests them, which rings a bell. Personally using the product and then giving an honest review assures the audience that the product is not too good to be true. It is a matter of credibility and future collabs. Also, the audience is very smart and proactive these days. They do not leave a chance to ask thought provoking questions in the comments or criticise the product if they have used it already. 

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) had issued guidelines for “Influencer advertising on digital media” which had become applicable after June 14, 2021. If any influencer fails to comply with these guidelines, the ASCI can issue a notice to both brand and influencer for violation of guidelines in the case of a consumer complaint. A screenshot with timestamps would suffice as prima-facie evidence of the ad. And in case there is no material connection, or exchange taking place between brands and influencers then a declaration needs to be signed by the advertiser’s organisation. 

With the rules and regulations becoming stricter and more well defined, it is crucial that the influencers understand what the consequence of not complying to the guidelines or not exercising due diligence could be. Being a content creator myself, and running Finnet Media for two years now, we make sure our team and clients stick to these compliances because their win is our win, always.