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Here’s a PR expert’s take on the new and controversial social media influencer laws

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For an industry that has been largely built on media relations as a foundation, you can imagine what the brave new world of influencer marketing has done to turn the Public Relations world on its head.

But rather than fearing them, there are countless reasons to celebrate these radical new changes to a brand’s marketing mix.

Influencer marketing is indeed a big adjustment to marketers and business leaders. However, to fully leverage these changes, ensuring that traditional and new media methods are combined to best reach your organisation’s target audiences should now be a key focus. As this area is still so new; it can be difficult to wrap your head around whether it’s worth implementing, what the benefits will be and how you will measure its effectiveness for your brand.

Earlier this year, the Australian Association of National Advertisers ruled that From March 1st, any promoted social media content without the hashtag #ad will be considered a breach of the AANA Code of Ethics.

What does this law mean for influencers?

Influencers that fail to disclose the paid nature of their sponsored posts will be considered in breach of the new provision, and be up for a hefty fine.

Brands wanting to continue influencer marketing needn’t be discouraged by the new rules, as most consumers aren’t being swayed by those three characters attached to influencer posts.

Many still see these posts as a source of earned media. They trust that despite payment exchanging hands, their favourite influencers would not condone a product they don’t love.

Gone are the days where sponsored posts consist of celebrities holding up a product. Influencers know that they will lose their credibility with this kind of behaviour.

In fact, this is the new truth for digital marketing on a wider scale: there is a focus on starting an organic conversation, as opposed to thrusting an adsy endorsement onto your audience.

In fact, professionals now believe that low to mid-tier digital influencers and bloggers have become one of the most important online tools a company can have, with a higher rate of engagement than your typical celebrity or top-tier influencer.

In today’s digital age, social media influencers can often make up the highest return on investment than other aspects of the organisation’s marketing mix, regardless of #ad or no #ad.

The new regulation is setting an ethical benchmark for PR/Digital Marketing professionals, and setting clear guidelines for online promotion to maintain transparency within advertising, which is right in protecting the consumer.

So if you’re planning on utilising social media influencers and want to stay out of trouble, don’t forget those three characters.

With over 15 years experience in the public relations industry, Sharon Zeev Poole has worked with high profile brands around the world including Warner Bros. Pictures and Starbucks Coffee. Sharon founded Agent99 Public Relations in January 2007, which over the past decade has represented clients in the consumer, lifestyle and corporate spaces, working with Evian, MTV, William Grant & Sons, Buderim Ginger, the Hunter Valley region and many more.

Sharon Zeev Poole (Photo by Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch)
Sharon Zeev Poole (Photo by Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch)
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