For the last couple of years, the government has made a valiant effort to protect users from sneaky online marketing strategies. One of the ways they are doing this is by cracking down on influencers that are failing to disclose their brand partnerships in their content.
This week, the FTC (Federal Trade Comission) released revised guidelines surrounding sponsored content on social media. According to the FTC, the goal in altering these guidelines is to “educate influencers that they are obligated to disclose relationships with brands when endorsing them”.
Many content creators are under the assumption that they only need to disclose brand endorsements when they receive payment for sponsored posts. However, the FTC has clarified that influencers must also notify their followers when they post content in exchange for free products or discounts from brands.
The FTC calls this as a “material connection” and stated that:
“Financial relationships aren’t limited to money. Disclose the relationship if you got anything of value to mention a product.
If a brand gives you free or discounted products or other perks and then you mention one of its products, make a disclosure even if you weren’t asked to mention that product.
Don’t assume your followers already know about your brand relationships.
Make disclosures even if you think your evaluations are unbiased.”
In their guidelines, the FTC states that disclosures must be placed in a prominent position where the endorsement is being made. For example, users should not have to click on another page or swipe to another photo to see the disclosure. Essentially, it has to be very obvious to users that the social media post is indeed sponsored by a brand.
The FTC also says influencers often use partial words like “spon” or vague terms like “ambassador” as a sneaky way to draw less attention to endorsement disclosures, which goes against the organizations guidelines.
Click here to learn more about the FTC’s Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers.