New FTC Guidelines Brands & Influencers Need to Be Aware Of

Mon Nov 18 2019
Terilyn Walker
Industry

Earlier this month, the FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, released disclosure guidelines for social media influencers, further explaining how relationships between brands and advertisers should be “clearly and conspicuously disclosed”. Presumably, the user friendly guide was released in an effort to crack down on lack of compliance, especially from celebrities and high-tier influencers.

Contrary to what you may see on Instagram, including “#sp” at the end of a caption is not enough to comply with FTC endorsement guidelines. Both brands and influencers can get in serious legal trouble if they do not disclose their partenships yet, 93% of potential sponsored posts are still not FTC complaint.

Here are the most important FTC endorsement guidelines that will keep your brand, and the influencers you work with, out of trouble.

When you need to disclose a partnership

  • 1. When an influencer has a material relationship with a brand. This includes personal and financial relationships that include the exchange of favors, discounts, free product, and/or money.
  • 2. When the influencer endorses or advertises a business they have a relationship with on a platform. Influencers cannot simply assume that their followers already know about a material connection with a brand discussed in a posting.

How to disclose a partnership

  • 1. When in doubt, make sure the disclosure is hard to miss. Don’t bury it in hashtags, quickly flash it over a Story, or leave it until the end of a video.
  • 2. Influencers should use clear and simple language such as, “Thank you [brand] for sponsoring this post” or Thank you [brand] for the free product.” Hashtags such as #[brand]Partner, #ad, and #sponsored can be used in addition to your disclosures.
  • 3. For pictures, disclosures have to be above the fold, you shouldn't have to click “more.”
  • 4. For videos, disclosures have to be audibly in the video itself, not just the description.
  • 5. This might seem obvious, but influencers can’t endorse products they haven't tried or say they love a product they actually hated.
  • 6. Influencers can’t make up claims that would require proof that the advertiser doesn’t have. For example, that a product can cure a disease.

Why to disclose a partnership

In short, disclosing a brand partnership creates trust with all parties involved. Many brands and influencers may avoid disclosing sponsored posts in fear of coming off as inauthentic and losing engagement with their audience. However, there is no correlation between identifying sponsored posts and a decrease in engagement. In fact, disclosed posts actually improve engagement.

Today’s consumers crave authenticity. And the majority of the time, they can tell when posts are sponsored, even if it is not clearly stated. That is why you’ll find that undisclosed posts are usually full of comments from fans calling influencers out on their dishonesty, which can shed a negative light on the individual as well as your brand.


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