Influencers beware – our tips to help you avoid business mistakes

Hillier Hopkins LLP

Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisers

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Promotional competitions and giveaways sometimes trip up the organisations and individuals using them to engage with a wider audience.

It’s nearly 30 years since the infamous Hoover free flights fiasco, where customers who spent £100 on Hoover products received in return two roundtrip flights to the USA, which were worth around £600. The public responded in their thousands and the promotion ended up being a legal, PR and financial disaster for the company and eventually led to its sale to a competitor.

Marketing campaigns have certainly moved on since that disaster, but for the generation of today’s influencers there is the danger of making mistakes and they might find themselves being tripped up thanks to the complex rules around competitions and giveaways and the sheer number of followers that they have.

The most recent influencer to be caught out is Molly-Mae Hague, who has breached Advertising Standards Authority rules under the scope of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.

I’m sure Ms Hague will be reviewing with her business team how to avoid a situation like this happening again in the future. It is likely that the ASA is going to more closely scrutinise the activities of influencers, especially those with a high number of followers as well as those who are establishing themselves.

Whilst it might seem a good idea to an influencer to offer entry to a prize draw for following, liking and sharing social media accounts and posts it is in fact complex to administer these and other types of competition, especially where a high number of entries may be received and specialist advice should be sought.

It is important that any influencer gets the business basics right to avoid making mistakes which could end up costing them their reputation and the following they have worked hard to build.

These are our key tips for influencers to help avoid tripping up on the basics:

  • Act and think like a business from the beginning – get the financial basics right, take professional advice and ensure there is good record keeping in everything you do from the start.
  • Remember whilst social media may make you a global phenomenon the rules from country to country differ on a whole range of issues. It is important to be clear about the rules you are following in relation to all your business activities.
  • Be open and fair with all of your followers in everything you do, as this will help to build your strong reputation for the future.
  • Take advice on the business relationships you have with third party organisations to make sure you get the best from the arrangement.
  • If in doubt, speak with your business manager.

Our Director Antony Smith acts for a number of celebrity and media clients so if you don’t have a business manager or need accounting advice and support for your influencer business activities, get in touch with Antony on antony.smith@hhllp.co.uk or 02070047148.

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Antony Smith

Antony has extensive knowledge of UK and international tax, offshore structures and trust and estate planning. His particular focus is on long term wealth planning for families and finding tax efficient solutions to complex situations.

Contact Antony at antony.smith@hhllp.co.uk or on 020 7004 7148