The Do’s and Don’ts of Influencer Marketing Discloser Guidelines in Canada: Is your Social Media Compliant?

The Do’s and Don’ts of Influencer Marketing Discloser Guidelines in Canada: Is your Social Media Compliant?

September 9, 2019 By

The Influencer Marketing Steering Committee of Advertising Standards recently published Disclosure Guidelines for social media earlier this year. The guidance document illustrates various influencer marketing do’s and don’ts as per industry best practices and accountability to the consumer. Disclosures are meant to provide transparency and honesty of all viewers of the sponsored post.

If your band or product uses influencer marketing practices such as blogs (and microblogs), social media networks (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and/or video content, then these guidelines apply to you. As social media platforms are constantly changing, the principles of being clear, conspicuous, and broadly understood should be applied to new and emerging platforms.

Disclosing an influencer for a brand is important for a few reasons. Firstly, influencer partnerships must be disclosed publically in order to be in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Secondly, it helps establish trust with the viewer to demonstrate truthful, fair and accurate advertising. In this second point, the viewer’s perception of the content is changed when a material connection is disclosed. These guidelines don’t override the regulatory requirement but can be considered to ensure that your influencer marketing is truthful, fair and provides accurate content.

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that ensures Canadian businesses and consumer prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace. The federal bureau enforces laws for deceptive marketing practices, under the Competition Act on advertising in Canada. The American counterpart is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Ad Standards is a self-regulatory body for advertising in Canada, which oversees the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, also referred to as The Code. Under The Code, discloser of material connection is required. In addition to Ad Standards requirements, the Competition Bureau also has published its viewpoint on influencer marketing in their The Deceptive Marketing Practices Digest (Volume 4).


Do’s and Don’ts Explained:

DO The Following

  • Do: Be Transparent and Honest, for sponsored posts (e.g. Clear disclosers; Use of widely accepted hashtags)
  • Do: Disclosures should be independent of the social media network (use appropriate location on the screen to ensure discloser catches the viewer’s attention)
  • Do: Be upfront and clear for video disclosers (best practice to list at the beginning in a prominent way; otherwise the disclosure at middle or end of the video will be missed)
  • Do: Discloser should be in the same language of the endorsement
  • Do: list the discloser in close proximity to the endorsement
  • Do: Be specific about the brand, and product and what was given to the sponsor, when providing the discloser
  • Do: Clearly communicate disclosers (visual, or audio, or both!)
  • Do: Use Unambiguous language in disclosers!


DON’T Do the Following:

  • Don’t: Have hidden discloser (e.g. embedded hashtag for a sponsor that gets buried in other hashtags)
  • Don’t: Use a blanket discloser (as this is not a clear indication of the relationship between the influencer and advertiser)
  • Don’t: Only tag the brand (this does not provide a clear material connection between the brand and the influencer, as viewers are not sure with a general brand tag; should be a specific brand)
  • Don’t: Use ambiguous or fabricated hashtags (as these may not clearly demonstrate that there’s a material connection
  • Don’t: Use Ambiguous phrases (“thanks Company X” is too ambiguous to understand if there is a material connection or not)


Overall, the Do’s and Don’ts encompass an overall message for influencer marketing disclosers: ensure the material connection of the brand/product with the influencer is communicated with upfront transparency and honesty. When in doubt, spell it out!

For more assistance in assessing regulatory compliance of your influencer marketing disclosers and/or advertising materials for health or cosmetic products/brands, contact us for more information on how we can help you.