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  • Timely information about Influencer Marketing from the Competition Bureau

  • Whether you are an Influencer or you are using Influencers to promote your products or services, you’ll want to make sure you understand the implications of Influencer Marketing and stay on the right side of the law.

    Truth in advertising is important. As an influencer, consumers rely on the opinions you share online about products and services, and believe they are genuine and impartial. It’s misleading if you don’t make it clear that your online content is actually an advertisement.

    The deceptive marketing practices provisions of the Competition Act apply to anyone who is promoting a product, service, or any business interest. So, as an influencer, the Act applies to you.

    Disclose all material connections you have with the business, product or service you are promoting.

    Your connections may be “material” if they have the potential to affect how consumers evaluate your independence from a brand. For example, you may have a material connection if you have:

    • received payment in money or commissions
    • received free products or services
    • received discounts
    • received free trips or tickets to events
    • a personal or family relationship

    Best practices to follow when disclosing these connections

    1. Make sure that your disclosures are as visible as possible.

    • Your disclosures should be prominent. Your audience may not see them if they are in a long caption, group of hashtags, or a profile bio.
    • Your disclosures should be visible on all devices without having to click or tap a button to expand the post.
    • If you share your content on multiple social media platforms, make sure your disclosures are on each one.

    2. Make sure your disclosures are clear and contextually appropriate.

    • Use plain and clear language in your disclosures. Avoid ambiguous terms and abbreviations.
    • Keep in mind the way your audience views or experiences the content you create on social media. Certain content may require both audio and visual disclosures.
    • Linking to or tagging a brand, posting a discount code, or linking to an affiliate webpage is unlikely to be enough.

    Ask yourself:

    Will it be clear to my audience that I have a material connection with the company that sells this product or service?

    You should also base any reviews and testimonials on actual experience.

    • Be honest about what the product has done for you.
    • Don’t make broad claims about a product’s performance. Testing or proof may not exist to back up such claims, so it’s important that you stick to your own personal experience when reviewing a product.

    In a December 19, 2019 News Release, the Competition Bureau stated that consumers must be able to easily recognize when social media content is actually an advertisement

    The Competition Bureau sent letters to close to one hundred brands and marketing agencies involved in influencer marketing in Canada, advising that they review their marketing practices to ensure they comply with the law.

    Influencers should clearly disclose the relationships they have with the business, product or service they promote. There is a relationship if the influencer receives money or commissions, free products or services, discounts, free trips or tickets to events, or has a business or family connection with the brand, among other things. Influencers should also be honest, and base any reviews and testimonials on actual experience.

    Businesses share a responsibility with influencers when they post advertisements on social media, as they may be liable for false or misleading content.

    The Bureau reached out to brands and marketing agencies following a thorough review of influencer marketing practices across various industries, including health and beauty, fashion, technology and travel.

    According to Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition, “When navigating the digital marketplace, consumers often rely on the opinions shared by influencers. To make informed purchasing decisions, consumers must know if these opinions are independent or an advertisement. Ensuring truth in advertising in Canada’s digital economy is a priority for the Competition Bureau.”

    Quick facts

    • Advertisers may pay or compensate influencers to create and share content that feature their products or brands.
    • The Competition Act applies to influencer marketing just as it would to traditional forms of advertising.
    • The deceptive marketing practices provisions of the Competition Act apply to anyone who is promoting a product, service, or any business interest, and those who do not comply may face significant penalties.

    Read more about this topic on the Competition Bureaus’ website