Online Influencers to Follow New Disclosure Guidelines

This month, The Federal Trade Commission released a new set of disclosure guidelines for social media influencers that lays out the agency’s rules of the road for when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers. Due to the lack of compliance, a user- friendly guide was released in an effort to crack down on influencers, especially those that are celebrities are considered “high-tier” influencers.

Including “#Sp” or “#SponsoredAd” at the end of a caption will not comply with the FTC guidelines, despite what you may come across on Instagram. If both brands and influencers fail to disclose their partnerships, they can face legal consequences. Presently, 93% of potential sponsored posts are still not compliant with the FTC requirements.

Here are mandatory FTC endorsement guidelines to keep in mind in order to prevent facing any legal penalties with your brand and the influencers you work with.

When it’s appropriate to disclose a partnership

1. In the event that an influencer has a material relationship with a brand. This consists of personal and financial relationships that includes the sharing of: favors, discounts, free products, and/or money.

2. When an influencer endorses/advertises a brand they have partnered with on a social media platform. It must be obvious to followers that the influencers have a material relationship with the business that is mentioned in a post.

Steps on how to disclose a partnership

1. Ensure the disclosure is as clear as possible. Avoid burying it in areas such as in hashtags, in a story, or leaving it in the backend of a video.
2. When it comes to pictures, disclosures must be above the fold and you should not have to click “more.”
3. For videos, disclosures must appear in the video itself, rather than just the description.
4. Influencers should be transparent and use simple language such as, “Thank you [brand] for sponsoring this post” or Thank you [brand] for the free products.” In addition to your disclosures, Hashtags can be used such as #[brand]Partner, #ad, and #sponsored.
5. Influencers cannot endorse products they have never tried and/or say they like a product they actually disliked.
6. Claims that would require proof can’t be made up by an influencer. For example, they can’t claim a product will cure a disease.

Why you must disclose a partnership

Brand partnership creates a sense of trust with all parties involved. In order to avoid being recognized as inauthentic and losing engagement with their audience, some businesses and influencers may feel the need to avoid disclosing sponsored posts. However, posts that are disclosed are more likely to experience better engagement; There is no correlation between identifying sponsored posts and a decline in engagement.

Consumers crave authenticity in digital marketing and social media. As a matter of fact, consumers are usually able to distinguish a sponsored post, even when it hasn’t been disclosed. You may even find that undisclosed posts lead to negative comments about the influencers; This can shed a negative light on an individual as well as your brand.