The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a new guide ‘Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers‘ which aims to inform influencers on how and when they should disclose their partnerships with brands to their followers to comply with the law. The guide includes pointers on when a disclosure is necessary and examples of both effective and ineffective types of disclosures.
The guide is more user-friendly with clear examples, photos, videos, and condensed language compared to the previous guide they published as part of the FTC’s ‘Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking.” The FTC is also publishing short videos on its Twitter and YouTube channels to help promote the guide.
“This is an attempt to reach the influencer, [that the FTC] hasn’t quite done before,” says Phyllis H. Marcus, an attorney with law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth and previously an attorney with the FTC. “It’s handy, boiled-down advice that is very specific.”
What influencers need to know
In the guide, the FTC states that payment for an endorsement is not the only circumstance that requires a disclosure. Influencers must also disclose if they receive free products or discounts and not to assume the followers already know about the brand relationship. The guide states: “disclose when you have any financial employment, personal or family relationship with a brand.”
It also highlights the two key characteristics of a proper endorsement disclosure: (1) placement of a disclosure should be “hard to miss”; and (2) the disclosure should be “clear and simple.”
A simple thank you to the brand or vague hashtags like #spons or #collab isn’t enough. Posts made on behalf of your brand by an influencer should appear with a hashtag such as #advertisement, #ad or #sponsored. Another important point is that an influencer shouldn’t assume that a platform’s built-in disclosure tools will sufficiently indicate the content is sponsored.
What are your thoughts on the FTC’s new guide? Let us know by leaving a comment below.