The Disclosure Spotlight Is Now on Bloggers: How to Keep Your Posts Legal
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After focusing largely on brands over the last two years, ad regulators are turning their attention toward bloggers.
The USA’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent notices to 90 high-profile influencers this month, reminding them of the importance of disclosing relationships with brands when they promote products through social media. This was the first time the FTC has reached out directly to influencers about disclosure, signaling that bloggers may face more responsibility for properly disclosing posts in the future.
As the rules continue to evolve, here’s a cheat sheet for keeping your posts legal, no matter where in the world you are located:
Keep It Clear & Conspicuous
The FTC’s guiding rule is that any material connection with a brand must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in a post. This means that followers must be able to see and immediately understand your connection with a brand at a glance. It also means you must add these tags to every new post. Marking the first post in a series without including others doesn’t satisfy the FTC’s requirements. When in doubt, over-disclose.
Defining “Material Connection”
A relationship with a brand doesn’t just mean accepting direct payment. Gifts, commission via affiliate links, or even having a business or family relationship with a brand falls under the FTC’s definition of material connection. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority and Australia’s Communications & Media Authority have similar rules.
Your Cheat Sheet
So, how can you make sure you’re in line with disclosure requirements? We’ve pulled some examples to make it easy for you! Here’s your cheat sheet to help you stay in the clear:
Don’t share Instagram posts on Twitter as hashtags are often dropped due to length.
Do post directly from Twitter, where you can ensure that the hashtag is clear.
Don’t automatically share sponsored blog posts on Bloglovin’ or LookBook — even if sharing to these platforms isn’t part of your collaboration requirements.
Do post directly to Bloglovin’ or LookBook with the hashtag #ad.
Don’t use ambiguous tags or phrases like #sp, #partner or “Thank you [Brand]” to disclose your relationship.
Do use clear words like #ad or #sponsored to mark your posts across all channels. Also be sure that these tags are immediately visible.
Don’t forget to mark every post in a campaign.
Do include your disclosure hashtags for every new post, even if it’s part of the same campaign.
Remember that the same rules apply to gifted collaborations as paid collabs, so be sure to tag these posts as well. Just include a simple #ad to each post.
Following these simple guidelines will not only ensure that you remain above board with regulatory bodies, but you’ll maintain good relationships with brands, and just as importantly, your followers, who appreciate transparency and trust.
If you have any questions about disclosure guidelines, we are always happy to help! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.