Influencers, if you ever wished you had a handy brochure on how to make proper disclosures in your sponsored posts, you are in luck. On Tuesday, the FTC issued a new guide titled “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” along with three videos, that lays out the agency’s guidelines for when and how influencers should disclose their connection to a brand. The principles are nothing new, but they are explained in a way that is straightforward and user-friendly, complete with hearts and thumbs-up emojis. Some of the principles that are covered include:
- If you endorse a product on social media, you need to make it obvious when you have a relationship with the brand — whether it be a personal, family, employment, or financial relationship (eg., the brand pays you, or you get free or discounted products).
- As an influencer, it is your responsibility to make endorsement disclosures and to be familiar with the FTC’s guidelines.
- The disclosure should be hard to miss and placed within the sponsored post itself. It shouldn’t be mixed into a string of hashtags (for example, #Venable #AllAboutAdvertising #Ad #GOAT), and if the endorsement is in a picture or video format, the disclosure should be superimposed on the image itself and/or verbally disclosed throughout the footage.
- The disclosure should be in simple and clear language. Terms like “ad,” “sponsored,” “BRAND Partner,” and “BRAND Ambassador” are OK; shorthand references (eg., “sp,” “spon,” or “collab”) and stand-alone terms (e.g., “thanks” or “ambassador”) are not OK.
- Your post must be truthful. Don’t lie and say that you’ve tried a product when you haven’t actually tried it, or that a product is great if you thought it was terrible.
And although this isn’t mentioned in the guide, keep in mind that the FTC is “following” influencers closely, as evidenced by its previous warning letters and complaints, and now the publication of this guide. If you are an influencer, make sure to familiarize yourself with the agency’s rules; if you represent a brand that works with influencers, send them a copy of the guide and double-check that its principles are consistent with your own internal compliance policy. Doing so will help keep you and your influencers on the right side of the law — and on the right side of the FTC.