Entertainment & Arts

Mrs Hinch: Influencer investigated by advertising watchdog

Sophie Hinchliffe Image copyright Instagram/@mrshinchhome
Image caption Sophie Hinchliffe is known as Mrs Hinch to her 2.5m Instagram followers

Social media influencer Sophie Hinchliffe is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority over her promotion of cleaning products.

Hinchliffe, known as Mrs Hinch, provides cleaning advice to her 2.5 million Instagram followers.

The ASA said the investigation follows three complaints in April over the "labelling" of product advertisement posts, including Flash and Febreze.

Mrs Hinch said she takes her posting responsibilities "very seriously".

She told the BBC that "being authentic and transparent is incredibly important" and feels her "community are clear about any content that is part of a commercial partnership, and that which isn't."

"I'm fortunate that brands want to work with me, but I only collaborate with those that I genuinely like and would recommend to people," she added.

"In fact, I'm overly cautious when it comes to these guidelines and will continue to be."

The Essex hairdresser is reportedly the UK's highest earning 'cleanfluencer'.

Image copyright Instagram/@mrshinchhome
Image caption Some of Mrs Hinchliffe's favoured cleaning products as seen on her Instagram page

She is part of a growing number of social media influencers who form paid partnerships with brands - distributing sponsored product posts to their vast online audience in return for payment.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, it is illegal for brands or individuals to post sponsored content - which is most influencers' main source of income - without disclosing it.

What are the rules?

  • Influencers must clearly label content that has been paid-for or for which they have received gifts or loans. #Ad or #sponsored are examples, and must now be prominently displayed at the beginning of the post, rather than buried away among other hashtags
  • Even gifts that are made without a requirement to post about them afterwards must be declared if they appear in social media content. #Freebie is suggested as a label
  • It is no longer enough for influencers to declare the companies they work for in their profile. Each post must be treated in isolation and all paid-content or commercial relationships declared
  • If an influencer is engaged in various commercial relationships related to an individual post, each one must be declared

Last year the ASA, in collaboration with Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), produced an Influencer's Guide to clarify the rules in relation to social media.

In January, a host of social media stars, including singer Rita Ora, model Alexa Chung and vlogger Zoella agreed to be more transparent in their posting practices.

Image copyright BBC/Reuters
Image caption Zoe Sugg (Zoella), singer Rita Ora and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley were among those who agreed to make changes

Failure to comply with the agreement reached with the CMA could see the stars taken to court and face heavy fines or prison sentences of up to two years.

"If they do not label their posts properly, fans or followers may be led to believe that an endorsement represents the star's own view, rather than a paid-for promotion," the CMA said.

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