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Now more than ever, the FTC is cracking down on regulating online influencers, their relationships with brands, and most importantly, how they are disclosing those relationships to consumers. If you are thinking about pitching an influencer marketing campaign to one of your clients, or you are an influencer yourself, then fill up your cup of joe and keep reading because there are some things you need to keep top of mind before you, or an influencer you are working with, begins marketing or disclosing products on behalf of someone else.
If you are now wondering about whether you need to disclose or not, ask yourself these three questions before posting to social media:
- Am I receiving financial compensation and/or free product?
- Is there a family relationship and/or non-financial compensation involved (e.g. gifts)?
- Am I disclosing material connections each time when including previously sponsored products/services in successive posts?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, then take a second to read through our tips for sticking to the FTC’s recently updated endorsement guidelines for influencer marketing.
The Dos and Don’ts of Influencer Marketing
Do clearly disclose when you have a financial or family relationship with a brand. Don’t just assume that people know about your personal relationships because they likely don’t.
Don’t assume that using a platform’s discloser tool is sufficient. Sponsorship disclosures must be hard to miss. When it pertains to social media, it’s all about the context. For example, when scrolling through some thumb-stopping images on Instagram, a viewer may not spot a disclosure placed above the picture or off to the side.
While the majority of the responsibility falls on the influencer in most cases, it’s also the agency’s responsibility to be monitoring all influencer content throughout the campaign to ensure influencers are following the FTC’s disclosure rules at all times.
Do avoid ambiguous disclosures like #thanks, #collab, #sp, #spon, or #ambassador. As an influencer, you want to make sure you are using language that is clear and unmistakable. It’s unlikely that some abbreviated hashtags or words like “ambassador” will communicate the disclosure effectively to all consumers.
Don’t rely on a disclosure placed after a “click more” link or in another easy-to-miss location. Consider your own user habits when it comes to social media—do you always click through to “view more” or “read more?” I know I don’t. When disclosing a brand relationship, the best approach is to keep it at the forefront of your content.
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These dos and don’ts aren’t meant to scare you or to make you think the FTC is going to come after you if you make a mistake. Because let’s be honest, it DOES happen. These points are more so meant clarify what the FTC expects from influencers moving forward. At the end of the day, the FTC wants to create more transparency in sponsored social media content by placing more onus on brands (and in some cases on the influencers, too) to openly divulge the relationship between brands and these digital celebrities who are recommending their products or services.
Click here to read more about what people are asking in regards to the FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines for influencer marketing. There are tons of helpful and relatable questions when it comes to social media contests, affiliate and network marketing, and even employee endorsements. For more tips on influencer marketing and social strategies, check out our free ebook.