Welcome to the third and final article in our series on FTC disclosures. Last week, we covered the basics of what disclosure is, as well as outlined some of the best ways to execute disclosure. Finally, we're covering off major pitfalls to avoid.
What not to do?
Here are some major disclosure don’ts that we still see out there:
- Don’t just “forget” to disclose: Did a spa offer you a free facial treatment that you raved about on your blog, but there’s no mention of the fact that it was free? That’s inauthentic and risks hurting the trust your readers place in you.
- Don’t “hide the ball.” This one comes directly from the FTC. They’ve made it clear that advertisers and endorsers who have a material connection to advertisers can’t “hide the ball,” by making disclosures hard to find or hard to read. Writing “This was a sponsored post.” in teeny-tiny font isn’t clear and conspicuous, and neither is a vague link appended to a tweet that leads to a full disclosure that the tweet was sponsored.
- Don’t be vague. A fun hashtag like #ILoveCoupons might seem like a clear disclosure that you received a coupon to try a product--but it isn’t. Hashtags like #BrandXSummerParty don’t cut it either--even though the brand is mentioned, it’s not clear that you have a material connection to the brand.
If you’re in doubt, it all comes back to our three rules for best disclosure practices: be honest, be transparent, and be conspicuous. Keep those three things in mind whenever you endorse a brand on the web or on social media they’ll guide the way you communicate with your readers, sponsors, and advertisers.