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The influencer community has mostly welcomed the Advertising Council of India’s (ASCI) draft guidelines, terming it as a much-needed action but at the same time some of them saying the norms need to be tweaked before being implemented.

Diksha Chhabra

Diksha Chhabra, fitness influencer and a sports nutritionist, and Founder of Diksha Chhabra Fitness Consultations, said the proposed guidelines lack explanation for a multitude of concerns.

She said there are many influencers who after establishing a certain number of followers launch their own businesses or websites and want traction. The guidelines should explain how promotion of an influencer’s own venture should be done and if the posts related to it should be marked as an ad or additional information.

She also feels ASCI should tweak the guidelines so that the strategies of upcoming influencers are not weak.

“Examples of content posted with appropriate application of the proposed guidelines should have been included in the draft for influencers to get a better understanding. The involvement of people in the industry is enormous with both consumers and influencers involved, and better insight on the given draft will help people follow the guidelines more seamlessly, without any hindrances,” she added.

With the growing power and demand for influencers, there is no doubt they ought to have a certain sense of responsibility when introducing a brand to their audience. While it is up to the influencers to decide how to build their own brand, it is expected of them to not keep the consumers in the dark with any false claims.

The ASCI’s guidelines can be seen as a first step in this direction to add a sense of social responsibility among the community to further add transparency for the consumers, influencers feel.

Aanchal Agrawal

Aanchal Agrawal, Digital Content Creator, feels the guidelines about due diligence by influencers puts a bit of pressure on them since it is not in their hands to check and verify claims all the time.

“It’s not like we ask models and film stars to verify what they’ve been saying they use. This thing feels a bit of a stretch to me,” she said.

Raj Shamani

Raj Shamani, Digital Content Creator, Keynote Speaker, Podcaster and Founder of Shamani Industries, had said the guidelines will hamper creativity of influencers. He said a better way to tell people that a post or reel is sponsored is through captions.

“The reason why influencer marketing works is that content creators seamlessly integrate the brands. If there has to be a disclaimer for a paid post, it needs to be at the point when the influencer is showing the brand or talking about the product and not in the beginning or the entire video. If done at the beginning, it will kill the vibe of influencer marketing. I also believe that influencers should take responsibility and only promote brands that they are genuinely using or brands they can vouch on,” he added.

Agrawal agreed that the guidelines are a welcome step in acknowledging influencers at large and will help to regulate the community better and be a part of fair trade.

“It’s good to have regulations in order to understand our responsibilities better. The power of having people’s attention comes with great responsibility and it’s important to be wise with it. I think making it a mandate benefits the audience at large,” she said.

Nikunj Lotia

Digital content creator Nikunj Lotia, aka, BeYouNick, said that it is a great starting point and things will probably evolve from here.

“Digital content creators have their own format of content; some do travel, some practise a skill, some entertain, and brands are often involved in specific parts of the content instead of the content at its entirety. It can get confusing or misleading for the audience there," he said.

At present, YouTube already has a 'disclosure mandate' feature. If any video has a sponsored integration, it is mandatory for the creator to tick the option, 'this video includes paid promotion' in the back-end while publishing his/her videos and viewers are shown the same label 'upfront', during the start of the content.

Rajesh Kumar

Rajesh Kumar, aka, FactTechz, YouTuber and digital content creator, feels there is nothing wrong with these guidelines. Most of the so-called new guidelines are already followed by responsible creators who have a good relationship with their audience, as majority of digital creators like him work with a long-term goal in mind. One must act responsibly if he/she wants to maintain a good relation with the audience, Kumar said.

“I don't think these guidelines will affect responsible creators, who don't exaggerate and choose reasonable words for products/services and keep a balance,” he said.