Last year the FTC addressed a great deal of frequently asked questions surrounding their 2015 Endorsement Guides – which, ‘at their core reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading.’
These guides have been stirring up conversation lately as more and more influencers and brands have been leveraging the power of social media, creating some ambiguity around what constitutes full disclosure in our ever-changing digital landscape. In short, the Guides are a big deal, and it's crucial for all bloggers and content creators, as well as brands and organizations, to be compliant across all channels, all of the time.
Whether you’re a brand or an influencer, there are the 3 main principles to keep top of mind when posting paid or sponsored content: Be honest, be transparent, be conspicuous.
Without further ado, here are our Top 5 Rules for playing by the FTC's transparency rules right now:
1. Always include the word (or hashtag) "sponsored" or "ad" or "paid" on all blogs and social media posts.
2. For real-time videos, like snaps and stories, a verbal disclosure and/or text annotation is necessary.
3. On YouTube videos the same rules apply. The word (or hashtag) "sponsored", "ad" or "paid" needs to be included in the video description and verbally disclosed within the first 30 seconds.
4. When writing a blog post, disclosure is expected before any mention of the product or brand. We recommend including two call outs for maximum clarity: an introduction at the beginning, and a reminder at the end.
5. When promoting or teasing sponsored content from another channel, the word (or hashtag) "sponsored", "ad" or "paid" must be included.
So, what’s the takeaway? The fact is, properly disclosing personal endorsements online may be an evolving practice, but it is essential. And even though these rules remain the same throughout each platform, each platform presents unique formats and challenges when it comes to incorporating disclosures.
And here are 5 real-life examples from some of our top influencers:
1. Beauty blogger, GLAMORABLE, uses the word sponsored to disclose her partnership with Jouviance in this blog post. Referring to her post as a ‘sponsored conversation’ is a unique way to make the disclosure feel authentic.
2. In her BUXOM YouTube haul video, Diana Saldana checks all the FTC boxes with a clear verbal disclosure in the first 30 seconds of the video plus a written disclosure in the description.
3. Megan of TfDiaries begins her blog post with a clear disclosure right at the top, before any text or images. Her readers will know immediately that they’re about to read content that’s been endorsed (which is exactly what the FTC means when they say ‘be transparent!’)
4. Talented beatboxer, Marcus Perez shows off his skills, and his partnership with HP, on Facebook with the use of #ad.
5. Another short-form social disclosure example where Girl in the Red Shoes promotes her Olly Nutrition partnership on Instagram.
As an influencer marketing agency and as policy updates and regulations inevitably change over time, it’s our mission to stay up to date on the rules, helping both brands and influencers disclose with authenticity and confidence. So be sure to check back for more!