A New Zealand marketing expert says we need to follow Australia's lead and lay down stricter rules for social media influencers who are surreptitiously flogging products on their pages.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) this week updated its best practice guidelines to apply to the growing number of influential social media personalities.

It said: "Marketers should be cognisant that, in seeking to make their advertising and marketing communication more engaging, they do not camouflage the fact that it is advertising."

For example, should a social media influencer collaborate with a make-up brand to create editorial content such as a blog, vlog or tweet about the brand, AANA said the commercial nature of the relationship may need to be disclosed.


If the brand had control over content on the influencer's page, then that material must be clearly distinguishable as a marketing communication, AANA said.

Advertising veteran Mike Hutcheson said New Zealand needed to follow suit, with an ever-increasing number of social media celebrities having an influence here.

"It is important that there is some kind of control or transparency in these situations because it's a bit like the Wild West at the moment," Hutcheson said.

"The fact is that these people are paid to do it because they've got a squillion followers on Facebook or whatever it is, so they're leveraging that level of influence to sell themselves. And, therefore, they should take that celebrity status seriously and declare that interest.

"If, for example, a celebrity is in an ad, you know they're being paid for it. If they're just spouting something on social media, you don't know and it's important that it's transparent, I think."

Such content was not covered by our advertising regulations, he said.

"It's very woolly and it does need tightening up."

Hutcheson, a former managing director at Saatchi and Saatchi, added that this sort of advertising was regularly being produced by New Zealand's social media influencers, some of whom would be paid tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars for their endorsements.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, influencers with between 3000 and 20,000 followers can receive up to $300 a post while those with 500,000 followers can charge in excess of $1200.

The original Bachelor couple Art Green and Matilda Rice have 183,700 followers on Instagram between them.