Influencer marketing: how to avoid getting caught out with ads

Influencer marketing: how to avoid getting caught out with ads

Influencer marketing is a multi-billion pound industry that’s revolutionised the advertising landscape, providing businesses with a powerful avenue to reach their target audience. However, the integration of ads within influencer content requires careful consideration to maintain authenticity and compliance with advertising regulations.

It’s vital for not only social media influencers but also the end business making an influencer marketing deal to understand legal obligations when incorporating ads. Avoid falling foul of regulations and having influencer posts removed or even facing fines.

What types of influencers are there?

An influencer’s audience size is used to categorize them:

Mega influencers

1 million+ followers e.g. celebrity influencer.

Macro influencers

100k – 1 million followers e.g. established experts in a particular field.


10k – 100k followers e.g. specialists on a certain topic.

Nano influencers

Fewer than 10k followers e.g. local to a geographic area.

An effective influencer marketing strategy will tap into groups of relevant influencers depending on the business aims. There’s no point in spending six figures per post to hire Beyonce if you want to attract customers to a local gardening centre.

The pitfalls for influencers in marketing

Signing up to run an influencer campaign for a business might seem like an easy way to earn money, but it’s important not to alienate a loyal following by teaming up with brands that don’t share the same values. You can easily undo months or years of careful content marketing and ruin the personal relationships you’ve built online with ill-thought-out influencer campaigns.

Many influencers face challenges when ads are not seamlessly integrated into their content. Lack of transparency, mismatched brand alignment, or over-promotion can lead to a loss of authenticity, credibility and trust among their audience.

This can result in negative backlash, diminishing the impact of the campaign.

If you’re creating content for a brand for a fee, agree upfront what the deal involves e.g. you’ll publish a specified number of Instagram stories between specific dates. Decide whether the brand will get post approval before you upload it to social media platforms. They may pay more for this, but it can stifle an influencer’s creativity and make posts seem stilted.

Creating an influencer marketing strategy

Businesses that work with influencers need a clear strategy of what they hope to achieve: is it to increase sales, improve brand visibility or rebuild brand image after negative coverage?

Choosing the right influencer for your social media campaign takes a lot of research and social listening. It is worth investing in monitoring influencers’ social media, as well as what competitors are doing well and badly.

Look for influencers who prioritise authenticity and relevance when incorporating ads into their content. By genuinely aligning with the brand’s values and products, influencers can maintain their credibility while ensuring a seamless integration of the ad. They should strive to create engaging and informative content that educates their audience about the brand’s offerings, rather than focusing solely on promotional messages.

Consider using an influencer marketing hub, also known as an influencer marketing platform, to discover influencers who might have niche audiences that match your own ideal customers. You’ll still need to vet different influencers whom you’re matched with on influencer marketing platforms to ensure an influencer’s personal brand matches your own. You can also ask them for examples of successful influencer marketing campaigns they’ve run before.

Also, decide what you’re willing to pay influencers. A nano influencer or micro-influencer might agree to be brand ambassadors in exchange for products or services e.g. travel social influencers might write about your hotel if you give them a free stay. If you’re after celebrity endorsements, on the other hand, you’ll usually need to engage with them via an influencer marketing agency and agree on a sum per post.

Ad regulations for influencer marketing campaigns

Social media marketing is subject to advertising laws and regulations. In many jurisdictions, influencers are required to clearly disclose when content is sponsored or contains paid promotions. It is crucial for influencers to familiarise themselves with these regulations, ensuring transparency by using appropriate disclosures such as #ad or #sponsored.

Online ads disguised as ordinary posts can damage the reputation of both the social media influencer and the business paying for endorsement. When you create an influencer marketing campaign, ensure you do it transparently to avoid increasing brand awareness for all the wrong reasons.

Working effectively with influencers

To maximise the effectiveness of influencer partnerships, businesses should prioritise collaboration and mutual understanding. By conducting thorough research to identify influencers whose target audience aligns with their target market, brands can create authentic partnerships that resonate with the intended audience.

Focus your marketing efforts on a handful of key influencers when you first dip your toe in the influencer marketing industry. This helps to refine your strategy as well as create a portfolio of influencer marketing examples that have achieved your KPIs, e.g. increase brand awareness. To keep costs low while you tweak strategy, it’s generally sensible to work with nano and micro-influencers to start with.

Setting clear expectations, providing creative freedom within some level of brand guidelines parameters, and fostering open communication are key to a successful influencer marketing campaign.

Depending on your business, you might want to ask for brand loyalty from the influencer for the duration of the campaign, so they don’t say your product is better than the leading brand for one week and then support the leading brand the following week.

Running a successful influencer marketing campaign

Influencer marketing works when it’s done well with the right influencers, and most influencers don’t fit the original ‘celebrity influencers’ stereotype. In the world of influencer marketing, transparency, authenticity and compliance with advertising regulations are essential.

Influencers must carefully incorporate ads into their content, maintaining credibility and trust with their audience. Likewise, businesses should collaborate effectively with influencers, ensuring alignment, setting clear expectations and complying with legal obligations.

Influencer endorsements should be just one of your marketing tactics, and resulting engagement metrics should be closely monitored to track whether the influencer program is reaching potential customers.

By embracing these principles, businesses can harness the power of influencer marketing to reach and engage their target audience effectively, building lasting relationships and driving business growth.


To get advice on your influencer marketing, or decide whether this option is right for you, get in contact to talk to our team.