You are social media savvy, but are you legally savvy, too? Five tips to comply with the FTC disclosure requirements for social media influencers
Social media has grown from a simple place to connect friends and family to a major platform for marketing for businesses of all sizes. Partnerships between businesses and social media influencers have grown dramatically in the past few years and this growth has attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Therefore, it is crucial for brands and influencers to follow the FTC rules to avoid legal or financial penalties.
FTC rules for truth-in-advertising standards about endorsements and disclosures apply to posts on social media platforms as well as other forms of advertisements. The FTC disclosure requirements aim to help consumers differentiate between paid advertisements and organic posts. The influencers are required to disclose any “material connections” that they have with the brand they are endorsing. A connection is deemed “material” when the relationship between the influencer and brand may materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement from the influencer.
Here are some tips to help you comply with FTC’s disclosure requirements:
- Disclose any financial or family relationship between the influencer and the brand. Do not assume the audience knows about such relationships.
- The Disclosure must be unambiguous. When disclosing a material connection, use language that’s clear and unmistakable. It’s unlikely that abbreviations, shorthand, #inStringofHashtags, or arcane lingo will communicate the disclosure effectively to consumers.
- Placement of disclosure matters. The FTC does not dictate where you have to place the “#ad.” What the FTC will look at is whether it is easily noticed and understood. Don’t rely on a disclosure placed after a CLICK MORE link or in another easy-to-miss location.
- Don’t assume that using a platform’s disclosure tool is sufficient. Some social media platforms have disclosure tools, but that’s no guarantee they’re an effective way for an influencer to disclose a material connection to a brand.
- The endorsement must be truthful. An endorsement has to represent the accurate experience and opinion of the endorser. You can’t make claims about a product that would require proof the advertiser doesn’t have.
If you find all of this confusion, please do not hesitate to reach out to someone to discuss the nuances of complying with FTC rules. You can reach us at [email protected]
Written by Judy Yen, Associate (Bar Pending).