Why I'm Annoyed At Bloggers & Influencers

Okay that may have been a little bit of click-bait, I’m not annoyed at all Bloggers and “Influencers” but there are definitely more than a few. I’ve been writing this post for a while now but today I decided to push it live because it happened again… I came across blatant undisclosed ads.

It happens all the time, you see people promoting products on blogs and on social media (undisclosed), sometimes pushing it so much you start to wonder, ‘is this actually an Ad? I don’t know whether to believe what they are saying?’ It’s at the point now where bloggers and influencers that are conscious of disclosing will feel the need to state “by the way, this is not an ad, I just genuinely love this product and do 100% recommend it”. But today, yet again, I saw someone that I follow posting on their Instagram stories and not disclosing that they are Ads. Immediately, I felt angry. Betrayed in some way. In fact they posted four Instagram stories today for this campaign and this evening they posted a supporting post on their Instagram feed. Each post (stories and feed) they are being paid for, but not mentioning it, never mind making it clear. How do I know these are Ads? Because I’m taking part in the same paid campaign over the next few days. I will not mention who this person is or what the campaign is, it’s not relevant, it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back if you like, it’s what triggered me to press publish on this post.

I’m not sure who I’m angrier at, the brands & PRs that are allowing it to happening by not enforcing full disclosure or the bloggers/influencers who are breaking the law (consumer protection law in the UK) by their own choice. It’s simple, if money is changing hands, if you are being paid in exchange for a post for example, it’s an advertisement and you should be disclosing that with AD or #AD or using the ‘Paid Partnership with…’ function on Instagram. Oh and by the way, that doesn’t mean hiding #Ad amongst twenty-nine other hashtags… it needs to be clear. The same goes for blog posts – you need to disclose that it is a paid post – preferably at the start of the blog post incase readers don’t make it to the end, so it’s clear. The Consumer Protection Law means that you have to let your followers/readers/subscribers know when you are being paid for a blog post, and Instagram Post, Instagram Story and so on.

From what I’ve seen, and this could just be because of the type of feeds I like to follow, but it seems to happen more in ‘”influencers” that have a presence on Instagram for example as opposed to bloggers – and following on from that, it is disgustingly common in celebrities – celebrities are without a doubt the worst for not disclosing Ads. Honestly, it’s just not damn well fair that some of us are sticking by the law and some aren’t. As a blogger I take disclosing incredibly serious because being a blogger is serious to me. I hope for this to be my full time job and income one day and as such I want to know I am meeting the guidelines and playing by the rule book and equally as importantly – for my readers to know that I am being honest with them too. By disclosing.

Aside from the rules on Ads – which are pretty damn clear let’s be honest, other guidelines for on social media to keep in mind are as follows:  For gifted items, you should disclose when items/services are gifted by using #spon or #gifted . If for example you have agreed with a brand that you will post an Instagram post featuring the free product they have sent you, you should make it clear to your readers that the item featured and mentioned was gifted. The same goes for Affiliate Links – you should disclose that you are using affiliate links – even though a sale isn’t guaranteed, if a sale is made then there is payment exchanging hands, so you should disclose it with #AF or #AffiliateLink – something that is clear. As of this moment in time, you are not breaking the law if you do not disclose gifted items or affiliate lines, but it is highly recommended that you do. It’s only a matter of time surely? Blogging and product endorsement online is only going to get bigger and bigger after all. Of course, the same applies for blog posts – you should be clearly disclosing all the same stuff.

I really don’t want to make this sound like a massive troll hunt out to get those who don’t disclose because admittedly, I’m sure there are those out there that are possibly just completely unaware of the law and the guidelines… so maybe this will shed some light on what is expected of all of us. And just a word of caution to anyone or anyone you know that is not disclosing Ads, you can be reported to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) at any point, and keep in mind that there will be other people in the same industry that know what you’re doing and are shaking their heads…

So basically what I’m trying to say is that whilst for a long time blogging guidelines were quite vague, we are now in 2018 and it is perfectly clear so there really is no excuse. Plus, if you as a Blogger/Influencer are working with a brand on a campaign that is right for you, why should you not be shouting the fact that you are being paid to create creative, content that you are proud of from the rooftops?

Okay, rant over. To end on a positive, you can take this as me promising you that if I am being paid for content, I will disclose it and make it clear that it is an Ad. If I am gifted an item in exchange for a potential post or feature or mention, I will disclose it and make it clear that mentioned item was gifted. And going forward, if I am using an affiliate link with the possibility (but not guarantee) of receiving money from a sale, I will disclose it and make it clear that it is an affiliate code. But on a side note – even if items are gifted or even if I’m working on a paid campaign, I will only ever promote products that I do love and recommend. If I don’t love it, how the hell can I expect you to?

Oh, and a massive shoutout to all the bloggers and influencers that are disclosing. YOU THE BEST. Keep doing what you’re doing.

*Disclaimer – this post is not sponsored or paid for by anyone 😉

Why I'm Annoyed At Bloggers & Influencers