Q&A with Rupa Shah – The Challenge of B2B Influencer Marketing Compliance

How can you ensure your B2B influencer marketing programme is compliant?

Most B2B marketers need know very little about ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) and CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) regulations in relation to B2B influencer marketing. We talked to ex-ASA compliance expert, Rupa Shah, to explore the potential legal risks involved in B2B influencer marketing.

Rupa Shah is Founder and Director of Hashtag Ad Consulting, a London firm that provides guidance and training on the advertising rules to social media and influencer marketers.

Prior to founding Hashtag Ad, Rupa trained in law and worked at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for 13 years. As complaints about influencer marketing increased, Rupa developed CAP guidance papers, gave industry presentations and organised seminars on compliance but ultimately recognised the need for a more integrated and tailored approach to avoiding those damaging ASA or FTC rulings … and so, Hashtag Ad was born.

Rupa currently sees her role as helping brands and influencers alike to protect their reputations.

Rupa will be joining us at DigiConf on 7th July to share her expertise in influencer marketing compliance, but we wanted to ask her few important questions first. Here’s what she had to say.

What are the biggest compliance and regulation risks facing B2B brands working with influencers today?

RS: Similar to consumer influencer marketing, it’s all about disclosure and making it clear that there is a commercial relationship in place. I think the biggest challenge is for B2B brands to understand when they need to disclose this relationship, how they do it, what information they need to be giving to their influencers, and how to give them that information.

What should B2B brands do to ensure that their influencer marketing is compliant?

RS: The main thing is to be very careful about the influencers that you are working with. There are probably three big factors to look out for.

Firstly, audit those influencers. Look through their social channels, see what they are saying and how they are presenting themselves as this will impact on your brand.

Secondly, communicate with your influencer throughout the entire campaign. You’ll need a contract with the key regulatory information, explaining what the ASA guidelines are (if it’s in the UK). If it’s a particular niche, you may need to highlight certain areas they need to be careful of.

Thirdly, have a monitoring strategy in place. Influencers should talk organically but you still need to make sure that they are complying with the regulations and hitting the key points that you’ve asked for.

Do the same rules apply globally or do they differ internationally?

RS: When it comes to consumer marketing, the rules in the UK are at one of the highest levels, so you can generally assume that you’re complying internationally.

It’s trickier with B2B as we’ve had fewer rulings and less guidance from the CMA and bodies. The rules are very similar but there is likely to be subtle differences, for example with ad disclosures in different countries.

Again, we have strict rules here in the UK, so if you’re following those you are likely to be OK. One exception I can think of is Germany, which has some very strict rules. If you’re working with an online influencer, the campaign is likely to cross territories, so it’s best to try to apply the strictest rules you can to be on the safe side.

If you’d like to to learn more about B2B influencer marketing compliance sign up for DigiConf and tune in for Rupa’s session. She’ll be joined by Tim Williams, CEO of influencer analysis platform, Onalytica and Chris Thomas of Sage. Register for your FREE ticket here.