Rules of Influencer Marketing

Jul 19, 2019 by in  SMI

It’s no secret that the influencer marketing industry has grown rapidly over the last decade. Whilst speaking at a recent marketing convention, I presented the statistic that over 300 new influencer marketing agencies and platforms were created last year to illustrate how this booming industry continues to gain momentum. But some of the criticisms still levelled at it are that it is unregulated; it is the Wild West of the marketing world; that influencer fraud, fake followers and non-disclosure of paid-for relationships is rife. But is that really the case? And is it a global problem or are there just a few rogue states where this kind of marketing anarchy is tolerated?


A few simple principles

Actually, influencer marketing is subject to rules and regulations in the same way as all other types of marketing. In the UK and throughout much of Europe the regulations are created and enforced by self-regulatory bodies, government departments and the courts. But is there any synchronicity? Generally, yes there is, because it is a universal principle that consumers should be able to tell when they are being advertised to and those ads should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.

For influencer marketing this transparency requirement means that, if an influencer has been gifted a product or paid to endorse it, a consumer should be given that information as it may affect how they evaluate the endorsement. So, for example, the rules in the UK regarding which posts require disclosure are largely similar to those in France and the U.S (but Germany has a tougher regime).

Ad or gift or sponsorship?

Whether B2B or B2C, there is still some confusion about the correct labels to use for disclosure, as is evidenced by the huge range of options being used across platforms such as #ad, collaboration, #spon, AD, #collab, #gifted etc. The answer to correct disclosure lies in the nature of the brand-influencer relationship and whether the brand exerts any editorial control over the post. Beyond that, there are also guidelines on prominence, placement and positioning of disclosure labels.

Guidance and training

For influencers, agencies and platforms, finding out what the influencer marketing rules are and how to apply them is no longer difficult. The FTC and the self-regulatory bodies across Europe have issued online guides and FAQ’s on disclosure and many law firms provide web updates and blogs on court cases involving influencer marketing. Alongside the regulatory specialists like myself, there are also many responsible influencers who blog and vlog about the rules for their individual niches and provide tips and guidance on how best to comply with them.

Penalties and punishments

If the rules are broken and a brand and influencer find themselves the subject of an investigation or court case, the penalties can vary significantly but most regulators start with a warning (like these FTC letters about vaping) with the threat of financial sanctions and potential imprisonment if the regulations continue to be breached. Maximum potential fines can vary from €80,000 in Belgium up to €5M in Italy, although these are only theoretical figures at present because no influencer or brand has been hit with them yet.

But perhaps the most effective penalty is the negative publicity that is generated when a regulator announces action against a brand and influencer. Media outlets are quick to pounce on any negative information about influencers and regulatory investigations or court cases are unlikely to go unnoticed.


female social media influencer

Smart influencers

To avoid breaking the rules, influencers should not only familiarise themselves with the general guidance on influencer marketing, but also on any specific rules relating to the products they intend to endorse. Some are obvious e.g. age restrictions for alcohol or gambling products, but for other sectors such as travel and tourism, there may be some subtle restrictions relating to the images used, the locations or the facilities. An influencer may believe that they’re not responsible for any factual claims that they make if they’ve been provided with that data by the brand but it is their responsibility to make sure all claims in their posts are correct so, if in doubt, they should ask the brand for clarification or evidence e.g. that they really do have the biggest conference hall in the city or that they have more 5* reviews than their competitors.

Intelligent brands

It’s arguable that brands, not influencers, suffer the greater reputational damage from an upheld ruling or court case so there’s no doubt that compliance with the rules should be at the forefront of their influencer strategy. That strategy should include:

  • selecting responsible influencers (checks for follower fraud, disclosure non-compliance etc);
  • providing influencers with contracts that contain the rules on disclosure and any other salient regulatory points (but cut-out the legalese);
  • issuing influencers with FAQ sheets on the product/service and a detailed guide on regulatory rules to support the brief information in their contracts;
  • monitoring influencers’ posts for compliance;
  • a plan that allows non-compliant posts to be pulled as soon as an error is noticed or a complaint is received.

Clued-up influencer marketing compliance of the future

So does influencer marketing still deserve it’s Wild West label? I think not. As influencer marketing has grown and diversified, so have the rules and guidance and now, with a host of compliance training and workshop resources available to brands, there’s no excuse for acting like a clueless cowboy.


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AssociationsSpace – join our talks on Twitter Spaces

May 23, 2021

Twitter Spaces? What’s that? Haven’t you heard of a new way to interact, engage, exchange knowledge and learn? Twitter is a new feature of Twitter, which allows live audio streaming with invited speakers. Basically, it works like Clubhouse, but on Twitter, and is way better!

Join AssociationsSpace on Twitter Spaces every Wednesday

We have created #AssociationsSpace on Twitter Spaces with Nadia Rubtsova where we talk about all things related to associations every Wednesday at 3 pm CET / 2 pm UK time. Nadia Rubtsova became a very special social audio emcee. During live audio shows, she will talk with eventsprofs, associations representatives, and meeting planners.

Nadia Rubtsova - Associations specialist and Helsinki MICE Ambassador 2020-2021
Nadia Rubtsova – Associations specialist and Helsinki MICE Ambassador 2020-2021

Interested in the MICE industry, associations, sustainable and safe events? Well, then it’s an absolute MUST to join our first and next episodes of the #AssociationsSpace.

You can listen to these short conversations during your coffee break or when you’re out for a walk. If you want to stay on top of trends and get new ideas for associations, tune in and participate in our discussions.

Our first episode will be hosted on May 26th at 3 pm CET on Twitter Spaces and hosted by Word of MICE Twitter profile. Follow Word of MICE and Nadia Rubtsova on Twitter. Don`t miss out because this is not a podcast. You will not be able to listen to Nadia’s talk with the guest later.

Not sure what Twitter Spaces is and how it works? Log in to your Twitter account and simply tune in. We recommend using your mobile phone and Twitter mobile app. Test it, have fun, improve your digital skills and let`s talk about events, conferences, and associations.

Associations Space – 10 episodes

#1 Antti Lumiainen – Safe events

Associations Space” fire chat series starting on 26th May at 3pm CET in collaboration with Helsinki Marketing. Our first chat with Antti Lumiainen will be an amazing start to our new initiative. Nadia will be discussing SAFE EVENTS and what associations can expect when planning their in-person and hybrid events for the near future. The key takeaways will be:

  • The top 3 tips the association event planners need to keep in mind when planning their safe in-person or hybrid events this year
  • What support do cities provide for the association planners to guarantee safe events?
  • How can the association planners be motivated to plan their in-person or hybrid events instead of virtual ones?

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#2 Carolina Goradesky – The future of associations

Nadia`s  guest for this episode is Carolina Goradesky, PMP, CMM – Events Manager at FIDI Global Alliance. Here’s what we’ll chat about:

  • Which trends do we see in association’s events?
  • What is the role of sustainability?
  • 360 Community & engagement

#3 Antti Lumiainen – Sustainability and associations

This time Nadia encourages you to grab your smartphien to talk about sustainability and associations together with her guest Antti Lumiainen from Helsinki Marketing. They will exchange our views on…

  • What role do associations play in contributing to the economic and social sustainability and development of regions?
  • What are the benefits of sustainable development for the associations?
  • How can sustainable events help associations generate revenue and members’ engagement?

#4 Paula Blomster – Sustainable events and associations

t’s been a tough year for the entire event industry, but venues have been doing such an outstanding job to make sure that in-person events are possible in the nearest future. This is not only about safe events, but sustainable events which will be again our focus very soon.

A fascinating discussion with Paula Blomster, Congress Manager of one of the biggest Expo and Convention Centre in Finland- Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre. Eventprofs will talk about:

  • What is ISO 20121 standard and how can associations implement it in their events?
  • The United Nations sustainable development goals.
  • Explore new ways to reduce and offset event’s carbon footprint.

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#5 Mariska Kesteloo – B2B Influencer marketing and associations

Events are the lifeblood for the associations… Events drive revenue, give exposure, and expand the membership base. So how can you create a bigger awareness for your association’s events? This episode will feature our very own Mariska Kesteloo, the founder of Word of MICE, an expert in B2B influencer marketing. What to expect?

  • How can your association leverage the data and feedback from your events to foster growth and create more awareness?
  • The secret sauce to creating a fear of missing out for your next event.
  • How to use social media and influencers to create a buzz around your event?

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#6 Ronald Lim – Virtual events and associations. Case study

360 attendees, 2 days, VIRTUAL Conference. This is the Pediatric Oncology Conference, that took place last week and that we will be discussing as a case study during next #AssociationsSpace chat on Twitter Spaces. This episode will feature Ronald Lim, DES, Business event strategist and technologist, Co-Founder of three companies: Creative Rock, Think EventConference People, and the official PCO for many Asia-based associations. What are we going to talk about with Ronald Lim?

  1. Fresh insights. Case study of Pediatric oncology conference
  2. Main learning points about running a virtual conference: do’s and don’ts
  3. Preparation for the association

Ronald Lim associations virtual events hybrid conference case study

#7 Usman Khan – Revenue generation and associations.

Which revenue streams can you develop for your association? Next Nadia`s Twitter Spaces guest will be Usman Khan, the former director of several Brussels-based NGOs. Currently Usman Khan is the Managing Director of Modus Europe Limited, a firm that provides consultancy services with a focus on health and social care. During #AssociationsSpace they will talk about?

  1. Revenue-generating activities: Ways to reach financial stability.
  2. How associations can create more opportunities?
  3. What are the challenges that associations are facing

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#8 Charlotte Otten – Virtual events. Engagement and associations

Charlotte Otten, Head of Events at Solar Power Europe, is going to be next guest of  Nadia`s#AssociationsSpace Twitter talk. Charlotte will share  how they pivoted to virtual and were able to provide value to their members, partners and sponsors in a completely new environment.. Topics to be covered during the conversation:

  • How did Solar Power Europe association pivot to virtual and how its stakeholder engagement strategy changed?
  • What new value and benefits did they need to provide to keep members, partners, and sponsors engaged in virtual events?



#9 May King Tsang – FOMO creations and associations

Why do some events become extremely popular and others are barely “making it”? We’ll be chatting with May King Tsang – the top-level social media expert, the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) creator and live content producer. May King Tsang (also known as MayKing Tea) has amazing experience on all topic related to social media, engagement, FOMO effect and online events.

May King Tsang FOMO creator emcee events maykingtea twitter spaces-eventprofs

What Nadia and her special guest are going to talk about?

  • How to bridge the gap between Social Media + PR for the associations’ events?
  • How to engage association’s members on Social media?

Have you missed the 40 minutes conversation with May King? Listen to her recorded tips how to create FOMO effect for your event and confence.


#10 The final #AssociationsSpaces talk

Paulus Torkki  – Associate Professor of Healthcare Operations Management at University of Helsinki


Associations Space on Twitter hosted by Word of MICE and brought to you in collaboration with Helsinki Marketing and special #AssociationsSpace emcee, Nadia Rubtsova – Helsinki MICE Ambassador 2020-2021.