Full Disclosure: Understanding the FTC Guidelines for Influencer Marketers
Thursday, July 20, 2017
For many of our members, online marketing is a key strategy of the American Gem Society’s marketing plan. It allows us to effectively build brand awareness among consumers on the benefits of shopping with an AGS member.
Staying true to our mission of consumer protection, education and business ethics, the American Gem Society always seeks to be transparent in all of our promotional efforts. As a result, we adhere to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Guidelines regarding advertising; in fact, as members know, we even have a section in the Membership Manual that includes the FTC Guidelines in advertising (both online and print).
With the rise in influencer marketing, the practice of paid endorsements by key bloggers or social media personas, the FTC has taken notice and issued updated Guidelines, specifically related to paid endorsements. They are enforcing these Guidelines, too, and recently took action against Warner Bros. and Lord & Taylor for violating those policies.
Knowing the FTC Guidelines is important for any business active in online marketing, especially as it relates to social media, blogs, and any native advertising.
Google “FTC Guidelines on Social Media,” or “FTC Guidelines on endorsements,” and even, “FTC Guidelines on hashtags,” and a plethora of links pop up, many from marketing and advertising sites.
The FTC business guidance document .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising explains what brands should do to ensure disclosures in digital advertising are clear and prominent.
Here’s a summary of those disclosures:
- All social media and online posts must communicate sponsorship in clear, unambiguous language, and appear at the beginning of posts (or "above the fold"). Simply including hashtags like #sp and #spon and using phrases like "thanks to..." is not always sufficient, though, per the FTC Guidelines, including #ad within Twitter tweets is acceptable.
- Disclosures should be easy to read and in a shade that stands out from the background.
- Disclosures need to remain on the screen for long enough to be noticed and read if sponsored content is a video.
- Even if the influencer is negatively reviewing a product or service, disclosures are needed.
- Disclosures should be visible on all devices.
If you would like to learn more, the FTC also has excellent resources summarizing the Guidelines, like this paper, and this web page with answers to frequently asked questions.
Have you utilized sponsored media as part of your marketing mix? What best practices did you use? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.