India's Department of Consumer Affairs has introduced new guidelines for social media influencers to disclose promotional content in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The guidelines are aimed at limiting unfair trade practices and misleading promotions on the web. Failing to follow the guidelines will make social media influencers liable for a fine of up to $12,300 (1 million Indian rupees). In the case of repeated offenders, the penalty can go up to $61,600 (5 million Indian rupees), the Indian government department said.
The guidelines apply to social media influencers as well as virtual avatars promoting products and services online. The disclosures should be easy to notice in post descriptions where you can usually find hashtags or links. It should also be prominent enough to be noticeable in the content, the department said.
When it comes to promoted content in videos, the department said that disclosures for paid promotions should be placed in the video, not just in the description and be made in both audio and video format. Influencers must also disclose if they promote a brand, service or product during live streams, per the guidelines.
According to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the size of the social media influencer market in India in 2022 was $157 million. It could reach as much as $345 million by 2025.
Globally, the market size for influencer marketing has more than doubled since 2019. In 2022, the market was valued at a record $16.4 billion. The increasing popularity of influencer marketing, in India and worldwide, highlights the importance of regulations such as the ones introduced by the Indian government to ensure fair trade practices and prevent misleading promotions.