Love them or hate them, social media influencers are here to stay! Instagram stories and social media newsfeeds have become one huge advertising opportunity and brands will pay influencers big bucks to promote products to their audience.

Peppered in with friends and family, pics of their avocado on toast and their #sweatyselfie workout, you’ll see influencers and celebrities alike promoting the latest teeth whitening strips, baring a dazzling smile or looking fresh in their new outfit from ‘X’ store.

Social media is a great place to pick up recommendations on products, discover new places to visit and hear about brands that you may not have otherwise heard of. However, in the past it’s been difficult to know whether someone with a large following is sharing a recommendation because they want to or because they’ve been paid to. Also, did they purchase it, or was it gifted to them as a marketing strategy?

Luckily the Advertising Standards Authority have stepped in and implemented some guidelines for influencers to follow, ensuring these accounts are being as transparent as possible and that their followers are informed. You’ve probably seen #AD or #GIFTED pop up in a caption, so let’s do a quick rundown of what these disclaimers actually mean?

#Full Disclosure

The ASA guidelines state influencers need to disclose when a brand gives them a payment, because any posts promoting or endorsing that brand then become subject to consumer protection laws. In this case ‘payment’ refers to any money, commission, free products or services or any other incentive.

There’s no specific words they’ve got to use, however influencers and the ASA seem to have collectively agreed on a few common disclaimers; concise and clear to avoid any ambiguity.

A lot of influencers have saved highlights on their Instagram pages explaining their process when promoting a product, which is a great step in the right direction. Being honest with their followers not only helps you, the audience make informed decisions, but also increases their credibility as a trustworthy influencer.


Using the word ‘AD’ or ‘Advertisement’ on a story or post generally means the person has been paid to post about the product or service. This may be a one off partnership or an ongoing contract with the brand.

#Brand Partner or #Ambassador

This will mean that the influencer has an ongoing contractual agreement with the brand to promote their products over time. It’s not going to be a one-off advertisement and will happen over an agreed timeline.


Money may not be exchanged, but the product they’re featuring was provided to the influencer free of charge with the expectation that the influencer would post about it. If the influencer received the product free for another reason (like a birthday gift for example) then there is no need to disclaim, this only applies if it’s provided by the brand with the intention of advertising.


This means if you click the link, the person who provided the link will receive some sort of reward or commission. This should not mean that you pay any extra for the product, in fact you’ll often get a discount, but it’s worth noting that the person sending you the link will benefit financially.

The person promoting this link is legally obliged to say that this is an affiliate link by simply stating it or using a relevant hashtag: #affiliatelink, for example. These links may also place cookies on your device to track for future purchases.

The Bottom Line

Influencers may use a slight variation of any of these phrases but should always place them in a prominent place. If you’re ever in doubt, we would encourage you to comment/DM and ask them. Remember, it’s their responsibility to be accountable to their audience when they’re in a position of influence, and you’re entitled to know if a recommendation is organic, or if there’s an ulterior move!


Thank you to our guest Blogger Chantelle Davison – Choice Words By Chantelle