In the UK the rules are less stringent; fitness bloggers can accept free gifts or samples sent by companies in the hope of receiving a positive review without disclosure, but if a lifestyle blogger is paid to say something positive then it becomes an advertisement and must be disclosed. Payment is still defined as money, services or additional products, which can lead to some ambiguity, and the advice to bloggers is if in doubt, it is ethical to include a disclosure statement. An example of a disclosure statement would be “This product was provided to me free of charge from the company in order to review it. However the opinions expressed in this review are independent and my own” on product related posts.
Ireland’s social media personalities have previously avoided attention, perhaps due to the perceived smaller local market size, but the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) recently confirmed it’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications applies to social media posts. A recent survey by Stellar magazine found that 53% say Irish bloggers are not transparent enough, yet 74% of consumers have bought products based on the recommendation of a social media personality. The Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) has developed guidelines for social media marketing to sit alongside its Code of Ethics to guide its members, but not all social media influencers are members. Additionally in Ireland services, products or samples supplied for review do not need to be disclosed unless financial payment has been made, which could potentially mislead readers. With followers seeking authenticity from their idols, this approach is detrimental to building an honest relationship yet Irish bloggers resist stronger guidelines, citing commercial sensitivity ignoring the risk of damaging followers’ perceptions of honesty.
So what develops a successful online fitness brand? Aside from an engaging personality, it is built on;
- Provide information gained from knowledge and qualifications obtained from respected providers
- Seek quality collaborations and interactions with respected brands and products
- Make consistent, frequent postings across a core range of social media platforms – don’t stretch yourself too thin
- Practise honesty and authenticity, and respect the legal requirements of disclosure.