In Turkey, there are no special laws relating to advertising through social media and influencer marketing via social media. General advertising rules and principles apply. Influencer marketing should also adhere to rules regarding conformity to public order, fair competition, public/moral values, and accuracy, which are main principles regulating advertising in Turkey.
Influencer marketing can be categorized as a particular form of testimonial advertising. The Regulation on Commercial Advertisements and Unfair Practices (“Advertising Regulation”) provides certain rules and limitations on testimonials. Testimonials generally consist of written or spoken statements of individuals who have used the product that is being advertised, communicating the quality and superiority of the product. The Advertising Regulation stipulates that advertisements shall not include or refer to any testimony or endorsement that is not authentic, nor based on the experience of the testifier.
Regarding influential marketing, the problem arises when the social media influencer is sharing an experience that is fictional, pursuant to his/her advertising agreement with the brand owner. Another issue of law regarding influential marketing is when the social media influencer, who is financially supported by a brand, does not explicitly communicate this affiliation or the fact that its post essentially serves as an advertisement for the brand. Such behaviour is contrary to the prohibition of hidden advertisements.
The Advertising Regulation sets forth the basic principles to be considered, including that an advertisement should be clearly distinguishable, regardless of the format, or the broadcasting media. When an advertisement is broadcast in a medium that contains news and editorial elements, it shall be clearly stated that it is an advertisement. If a tweet or any other post on a social media platform contains advertorial content, without being clearly understood to be an advertisement, it is legally possible that an administrative fine may be imposed on the grounds of hidden advertisements. An influencer marketer, including hidden advertisements, or advertisements of prohibited products, such as tobacco/alcohol products, might be considered as circumvention of the law and should be banned.
The Advertisement Board’s duties are not restricted to reviewing any particular form of media. Therefore, all forms of social media advertisements are legally subject to review. However, the control is weakened due to the lack of specific rules for advertising and marketing via social media. However advertising rules should be firmly observed by advertisers even in social media.