According to YouGov, the online microblogging/social networking platform founded in 2006 and named after ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’ is the third most popular social media platform in the UK – and with potentially around 13.7million UK users it’s no wonder marketers make use of it to reach their audiences.
As the rules in the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code are largely media neutral, it’s safe to say that – from sponsored tweets and promotional marketing to brand accounts and influencer marketing – the same rules and principles that apply in other media are equally applicable to advertising on Twitter.
Here are some key learnings from Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rulings to help you avoid some of the common ‘twit-falls’ when advertising on this platform.
The ASA’s very first ruling on an ‘influencer marketing’ scenario in social media involved a Wayne Rooney/Nike tweet in 2012. As is true for all the other social media platforms, and indeed all media, advertising on Twitter – whether it’s a tweet from a brand about a product they sell or influencer or affiliate marketing – must be obviously identifiable as advertising.
Tweets that originate from brand-owned profiles and ‘Promoted’ tweets are generally likely to be recognised as advertising from the context, but the ASA’s research on labelling influencer marketing found that people really struggle to identify when social media posts by influencers are ads. This means that ads that are very similar in terms of tone or voice as an influencer’s usual posts are very likely to need a label to distinguish them. Brand ambassadors are also likely to need to make clear when an individual tweet is an ad.
Ultimately, if it’s not otherwise clear, we recommend, as a minimum, that tweets include a prominent ‘Ad’ label at the beginning (with or without a ‘#’, brackets or similar – though this might make it stand out better), though if the tweet is very short it could be considered equally clear when placed at the end, provided it’s not buried in amongst other hashtags.
For more detailed guidance on the principles, see the ‘Influencers’ guide to making clear that ads are ads’.
280 characters isn’t very many in the grand scheme of things, but a character limit is unlikely to be a good enough reason to leave out important information or significant conditions – which could reasonably be included in an image or a very clearly linked thread (using ‘1/3’, ‘2/3’, etc. for instance).
The ASA has upheld numerous complaints about tweets because significant conditions in a promotion weren’t included. If a promotion has too many significant conditions to clearly include in a tweet, it might be that Twitter isn’t the right place to tell people about it.
Targeting is important, particularly for certain types of content and for advertising of certain products like alcohol, gambling and HFSS foods. The ASA will always expect you to use all of the tools available to target appropriately on any platform and ensure that you have taken all reasonable steps to avoid your ads being seen by someone who, for example due to their age, shouldn’t.
A promoted tweet for Captain Morgan was judged to be acceptable because the advertiser was able to demonstrate that they had used targeting tools like keyword targeting and follower targeting to prevent children and young people from being inappropriately targeted.
Similarly, an influencer marketing tweet from SpencerFC for Betbull was considered acceptable because the advertisers had used the most robust demographic data available to them (relating to the influencer’s YouTube channel) to satisfy themselves that less than 25% of the audience were likely to be under the age of 18. The same approach was taken in relation to influencer marketing tweets from PointlessBlog for Nutella (an HFSS product), though the requirement in that case was no more than 25% under-16s. The ASA also understood that (at the time) Twitter’s overall demographic data showed that between 81% and 91% of UK Twitter users were aged 18 and over.
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