Formulating sponsored content can be tricky, so we've put together a quick guide to smart disclosure. Part Two of our three part series covers the "how" of FTC-friendly disclosure, whether it be on your blog or on social media.
But how should you disclose?
This is the tricky part! We see bloggers and social media influencers really struggle with the best way disclose their sponsorships, but we also see some really smart approaches. We’ve distilled our favorite FTC-friendly disclosure best practices below:
On a blog:
- We recommend including two disclosures on a blog post. The first disclosure should be when you first introduce the product or sponsor you are endorsing. Remember the importance of proximity? There’s something a little frustrating about reading a glowing blog post about a new product and only finding out at the very bottom that the blogger was compensated to write the post. We call the first disclosure a “soft” disclosure, because it just lets your readers know that that there’s a connection between you and the brand in clear, basic language. It looks something like this: “I have been really trying to snack healthier these days, so I’m thrilled to be partnering with Healthy Snacks Co. to share my thoughts on their latest line of snack foods” or “To celebrate Fourth of July, Airline X offered me and my husband a free ticket to anywhere in the US!”
- The second disclosure can be placed at the bottom of the post, to remind your readers that the post was sponsored and also put more context around the sponsorship. For example: “Thanks to Airline X for sponsoring this post. I received a free ticket and compensation for this post. As always, my opinions are solely my own. Thanks for supporting the advertisers who make this blog possible!” or “This post was sponsored by Healthy Snack Co. and I received product to try for this review. I only partner with brands I really love and my opinions are mine alone.”
- Some bloggers add “sponsored post” or “sponsored” in the headline of their post. This isn’t required by the FTC and it’s not something we typically recommend, but if that’s your editorial policy you should stick to it for every advertiser, as you’ve set your readers up to expect disclosure in that format.
On social media:
Things get a little trickier on other social media platforms, but in general there are two ways to approach disclosure on other social media platform.
- Use plain language. This is our personal favorite because it’s direct and easy to understand. Whenever you’re endorsing a sponsor that you have a material connection with, let readers know in plain English. For example, if you’re creating a Vine video, add a caption that says “I received these new sodas from CoolSoda today, here’s a video of me trying the Mango flavor soda.” Or if you are tweeting a link to a retailer’s site and they’re paying you to share that product, you could say “I’m working with Brand Y to help you get summer ready. Check out their swim collection here.”
- Just Use #ad. In the 2014 FTC .Com Guidelines Update, the FTC let endorsers know that using #spon (short for "Sponsored") at the end of a short form post (like Twitter) isn’t enough. But putting #ad at the front of the post is sufficient to let followers know that there is a material connection between a sponsor and an endorser. You could apply the same approach to Instagram (including #ad in your original photo comment) or Facebook (including #ad in the Facebook post). The FTC recommends that the #ad tag be at the front of the post, not the end to avoid any confusion.
Between your blog posts and social media, you now have great examples for smart disclosures. As always, if you have questions or ideas, let us know, and stay tuned for the final installment next week: FTC Disclosure Don'ts!