‘Around 80% of social media posts are following ASCI influencer marketing guidelines’

e4M Influencer Marketing Conference: Editor Naziya Alvi Rahman spoke to Manisha Kapoor, Lakshmi Balasubramanian, Sagar Pushp, Viraj Sheth, Shahir Muneer and Vikram Kari

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 18, 2021 9:00 AM

The influencer industry has largely warmed up to ASCI’s influencer marketing guidelines, with almost 80% influencer posts having disclaimers of some sort on them, ASCI Seceratary General Manisha Kapoor noted while speaking on the virtual ‘Disclosure Diktat’ panel at the inaugural edition of e4M  Influencer Marketing Conference. 

She said, “For ASCI, our goal has always been to help the ad industry strike a balance between creativity and transparency. And the influencer marketing guidelines are a step in that direction. I can happily say that the influencer industry has been quite supportive and proactive in adapting to these guidelines and on any given day, at least 20% of the posts on social media are now rightly tagged and disclosures are mentioned on them, while other 60-65% have some sort of disclosures in place, even if sometimes they are technically not right. But at least the industry is trying to follow through the guidelines.” 

She added that for the remaining few posts, both brands and influencers have been pretty agile in making the required changes to the post and adding necessary disclosures. “Since the guidelines have been applicable, we have received around 300 complaints from social media users, out of which 80% were quickly resolved once ASCI reached out to the influencers. The remaining 20% either took some time to follow the guidelines or presented us with the right documentation and proof of them not being sponsored posts.” 

The panel moderated by e4M Editor Naziya Alvi Rahman also had the presence of some of the key people from the influencer marketing and management agencies— Lakshmi Balasubramanian, Co-Founder, Greenroom; Sagar Pushp, CEO & Co- Founder, Clan Connect; Viraj Sheth, Co- Founder & CEO, Monk Entertainment; Shahir Muneer, Founder & Director, Divo; and Vikram Kari, Senior Director-Product Head, INCA. 

The industry wholeheartedly supported the guidelines and thanked ASCI for their unparalleled support in clearing their doubts and being accessible for any queries. 

Pushp said, “The guidelines are pretty simple and easy to follow. In fact, I feel they have given the influencer community and the marketing world more confidence that influencer marketing is rightful marketing currency. Things are looking very positive right now for all of us.” 

Albeit, there are still some brands who want to do away with the disclosures and want the influencer posts to look organic, as Sheth pointed out, “The guidelines are simple and the community has accepted them. But there are still a few brands who want the influencer posts to look organic. But I feel, as agencies, it is our responsibility to make them understand that it is better for the campaign and brand image to have a few lesser likes than getting a notice from ASCI.” 

Some of the influencers too are worried about the disclosures impacting their reach and do not want to go ahead with following the guidelines. 

Kari pointed out “These guidelines were the need of the hour. Surely, there are some issues with the adoption right now, but these are still early days. And anyway, the audience today is much more aware and can easily tell if a post is sponsored or not. As agencies, we are trying our best to inform the community about these guidelines and also the brands. Yes, some of the influencers, especially the smaller ones, are wary if this could impact their reach. But we are pushing the adoption from our end.” 

Balasubramanian added, “Not just micro influencers, but some of the big and established celebrities are also worried about the reach and do not want to follow the guidelines. They are scared that their numbers will get negatively impacted and it will be difficult for them to get brand deals post that. It would be great if ASCI could get some of the platforms like Facebook and Instagram to answer these queries.”  

To this, Kapoor replied that some of the international markets have such guidelines in place for years now and the influencers there haven’t faced any reduction in their reach and engagement. 

Munir further noted that having the repercussions of not following the guidelines also well-defined in the charter will help the agencies better to educate and get the influencers and brands on board. “There is a lot of debate around the legalities of following these guidelines. But the basic thing that every brand and creator should keep in mind is that they shouldn’t be cheating the audience. And if the repercussions of it are well-defined and communicated, then it will be easier for us to explain this thing to the brands and influencers alike.” 

The industry, however, is quite positive about the guidelines and the transparency it has brought into the system. They are of the view that given some more time and efforts from the community, the guidelines will become more efficient and effective. 

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