FEB. 7, 2017:
As more and more influencers make a living on social media, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has started investigating the use of endorsements and testimonials online. And it is not just companies that are being held accountable—influencers with any number of social media followers are getting close attention by the FTC.
So what can you do to protect yourself and make sure all your sponsored posts are FTC compliant? We spoke with our in-house legal team, and they broke down the need-to-knows. See below for some simple guidelines.
If you got it for free, got a discount or got a freebie, then you must disclose this in your caption, Tweet, video description, etc. The same can be said for sponsored or collaboration posts with brands. When in doubt, always disclose.
Always be clear
The viewer should know right away if your video, post or Tweet is sponsored—they shouldn’t have to click a link or get redirected. An easy way to stay on top of this is to ask a friend, a boyfriend, a roommate (or even your mother!) if they believe that there is clear disclosure in a post before you put it live
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Always be mindful of the media
Your disclosure should differ depending on the social media it’s on. For example, if you’re posting a YouTube video, you can’t always rely on the description for disclosure, as your video may be linked or shared other places. Instead, insert a clear message during the editing of your video, like branded copy or #AD.
On Twitter Facebook and/or Instagram, the hashtag #ad, #advertisement, or #sponsored is an easy, short way to get the disclosure out of the way, but you can also get more personal and creative with your disclosure, something like, “Thanks so much to Smashbox for sponsoring my newest video, now live on YouTube.”
Always be creative
As of right now, the FTC doesn’t have hard line rules about sponsorships, rather they look at the situation as a whole. Their sole concern is that influencers and brands disclose their relationships, i.e. if you got a product for free, if you got paid, or if you got a discount. As previously mentioned, this leaves a lot of room for you to get creative with how you disclose your endorsements and really make it yours.
Always work with the FTC
2017 is the year that the FTC will really crack down on influencers, no matter if you have 500 followers or 500,000, so it’s important that you stay diligent about your disclosures and stay on top of their policies. If you do in fact get a letter of inquiry from the FTC, don’t freak out, but make sure to work with them so that you don’t repeat your mistakes. If you fail to meet their standard, you could risk getting blacklisted, which could make you very undesirable for brands and other influencers to work with.
Are you currently disclosing? Share in the comments!
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