The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently updated their Endorsement Guides to help individuals and companies better understand what steps they must take to keep their social media & blogging endorsements honest and legal.
Avid social media users and bloggers are often unaware of the things they need to be doing to adhere to the FTC Guidelines, so below we’ve compiled quick summaries of the common areas you should brush up on to stay in the clear.
To prevent deceptive advertising and uphold “truth-in-advertising,” the FTC requires that any relation, compensation, or sponsorship from a company/brand/product to be “clear and conspicuous” if you are posting anything on social media or your blog on their behalf.
So when participating in a sponsored campaign you must disclose that fact. Or if you’re receiving any compensation, you are required to make that plain and clear on all posts. You don’t have to say exactly how much you’ve been compensated, but you should be sure to write that you were paid for it.
The FTC is not proscribing a single way to phrase a disclosure, so long at it is included in all sponsored posts clearly so that readers/viewers can know how to evaluate the post. This also means that some sort of disclosure needs to be included across all social media platforms, regardless of character limitations. While you may be able to write out about receiving free items or compensation from a company in a blog post, a disclosure may be condensed to a simple “#ad” on a tweet.
Keep these tips in mind:
– Make the disclosure starkly visible in easily-readable color & font.
– It should be stated in the post in clear, easily-understandable language.
– Don’t include a disclosure in a hyperlink.
– It needs to be included in all platforms of a sponsored review/post.
Basically if there is any information that might change or have weight in the opinion of your readers/followers concerning the relationship between the product or service endorsement and yourself (such as if you’ve been compensated or are a part of a sponsored campaign/contest), then you must disclose that information clearly. Make evident any and all connections between you and the product/brand.
Even if a brand has provided you with their product for free, with or without additional compensation, it’s important to disclose this information in your post.
Having one disclosure on your homepage explaining that many of the products you review and discuss on your site are provided for free by the companies is NOT enough either. A disclosure must accompany each and every sponsored product review.
Now if you buy a product on your own and review or share it on your own, a disclosure is not necessary.
Disclosure is extremely important. If you’re being paid to review/represent/sell/advertise or market a product, you must state that clearly in your social media and blog posts.