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With the explosion of the likes of social media sites such Twitter and Instagram over the past decade, businesses have been tapping social media channels to promote their products and services, paying social media entrepreneurs — so-called ‘influencers’ with large followings —? tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the promotional posts.
The bureau says marketing firms must work with influencers to make it obvious to consumers when a recommendation is actually an advertisement.
“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 noted.
For example, a beauty blogger may be supplied free lipstick in exchange for a post drawing attention to the cosmetics company, complimenting its flattering shades.
“When navigating the digital marketplace, consumers often rely on the opinions shared by influencers,” Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition, said in a statement. “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.”
To be compliant with Canadian laws, influencers must disclose having a relationship with the brand whether they receive money, commissions, complimentary merchandise or services, discounts, trips, event tickets or otherwise have a business, family or social connection with the brand. Product reviews and testimonials should also be based on honest experience with the product being advertised.