How To Ensure Your Content Meets FTC Endorsement Guidelines
Influencer marketing, like all types of advertising in the United States, is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency exists to protect consumers against deceptive marketing practices, and has strict consequences for individuals and companies when they break the rules.
Nobody is exempt from using clear, and concise endorsements that follow the FTC’s guidelines.
Just days ago, the FTC sent letters to 21 people with large Instagram followings, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, and actresses Lindsay Lohan and Vanessa Hudgens, to discover whether the celebrities had any “material connection” to marketers whose wares they had promoted on the app.
If it’s found that they didn’t appropriately disclose their paid endorsement of products they could face significant fines.
To make sure your content follows FTC compliance regulations follow the tips listed in this article, and regularly check the Federal Trade Commission website for updates.
How to disclose a paid endorsement
The FTC allows some creative freedom in the creation of a disclosure, but it must follow some of the basics rules outlined below.
Disclosures should not be vague
Abbreviating “sponsored post” to “#sp,” or simply saying “Thanks *brand*” is not enough to pass the FTC regulations. Burying a disclosure amongst other content, including mass hashtags on Instagram is also discouraged.
Videos need to include the disclosure
Writing a disclosure in the description of a video is not enough because many viewers don’t read it. The disclosure has the most chance of being effective if it is made clearly and prominently in the video itself. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have disclosures in both the video and the description.
Disclosures should be clear and conspicuous
- close to the claims to which they relate;
- in a font that is easy to read;
- in a shade that stands out against the background;
- for video ads, on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood;
- for audio disclosures, read at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.
Use the same language for the endorsement and the disclosure
If your endorsement, and content is in Spanish, put your disclosure in Spanish. Likewise, if the content is in English, put your disclosure in English.
Take advantage of new endorsement features from social networks
Instagram and Facebook are starting to make influencers lives a little easier with features that clearly disclose endorsements without interfering with the quality of the post.
Instagram introduced a trial tool that allowed influencers to tag a brand as the sponsor for their post. Above the photo, video or story it will include a “Paid partnership with” notification at the very top. The advertiser will also automatically get access to the same data as the influencer around the post’s reach, and engagement metrics. (A very valuable addition for influencers and brands alike.)
In an effort to help influencers and brands follow the Federal Trade Commission’s online advertising regulations Facebook launched their own Branded Content Tool. Using it, influencers can publish sponsored content, and attribute it to the brand compensating them. Learn more about this feature from our detailed blog post, “An Influencer’s Guide To Using The Facebook Branded Content Tool”.
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