A guide to sponsored social content for brand ambassadors

By Helena Biggs | 11 March 2019 | Expert Advice, Feature

Brand Ambassador

When the ‘brand ambassador’ term was first scattered, it simply involved shouting about a brand or treatment you loved to anyone that would listen on a number of platforms, with the possibly of a few freebies in return. However, lines have become blurred as advertising stipulations step in, demand for sales and reach intensifies, and brands have a bigger hold over what their ‘ambassadors’ can and can’t say.

It appears that the term ‘brand ambassador’ is competing with the new-age ‘influencer’ tag. The traditional role of a brand ambassador was seen as fluid and free, and may still be to certain brands, but the rise of the influencer has meant that there’s a bigger commercial focus– and increasing competition to be the person that gets to post about a brand’s offerings.

The role

Whether a brand ambassador or influencer, the aim of these roles is to heighten awareness (or sales) for a brand under the guise of a genuine love for it. In the nail industry, this can help present products to customers and add a human element; bridging a gap between company and consumer.

They act as an expert; an authority and voice that can be trusted and relied upon and drive engagement across social media in particular. However, there are advertising rules that can impact on such social media posts.

Payment considerations & sponsored content

The increase in brands collaborating with individuals on social media for posts and content has led to the launch of a guide, which hopes to make it clear to followers when a person has been paid for uploading a post.

An Influencer’s Guide To Making Clear That Ads Are Ads, has been launched by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in collaboration with the Competition and Markets Authority (CAP). For the protection of the consumer, it reveals that marketing involving ‘unfair promotional practices’ is against the law, and any adverts must be specified clearly with a ‘Promoted by’ tag or a hashtag, such as #ad. It is against the law to use ‘editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content’.

But what counts as an advert? Does the ‘payment’ apply to the receipt of nail products? It all depends on the arrangement.

If a social media user promotes a particular product or treatment and the post contains a hyperlink or discount code meaning that they get paid for every ‘click-through’ or sale that can be tracked back to that post, then yes, it counts as advertising so needs to be specified on the content.

If there are links or discount codes for only some of the products mentioned in the content and the rest is mentioned in a purely editorial capacity, then only the bits of content that relate to the linked products are ads, rather than the post as a whole. This means that you only need to make it clear that those bits are advertising.

The report reveals that if you work with a brand to create some content that you post on your own channels, it will qualify as an ad if the brand:

  1. ‘Paid’ you in some way, such as with free goods
  2. Had some form of editorial ‘control’ over the content, including just final approval.

There has to be BOTH payment and control for this type of post to count as an advert under the CAP Code.

This is good news for those that are gifted nail goods or treatments, as unless the brand insists on control over what you post about them, then you don’t have to specify that your post is an advert, so a degree of authenticity can be maintained.

“If you have any sort of commercial relationship with the brand, such as being paid to be an ambassador, or you’re given products, gifts, services, trips, hotel stays etc. for free, this is all likely to qualify as ‘a payment’,” reveals the report. “There’s nothing wrong with getting paid to create content and this alone doesn’t make it an ad for the purposes of the CAP Code; the brand also needs to have some sort of control over the content.”


This control can include a brand specifying that certain phrases, themes or hashtags must be used within a post, or that it needs to be posted at a specific time. If this happens alongside receiving ‘payment’, then you need to add #ad.

For more information, check out the full version of this article in the March edition of Scratch magazine.