Recently the FTC issued a series of 90+ letters, directed at "educating" various social media stars on what proper endorsements look like, per their guidelines. Here is...
What You Need to Know:
- There are people watching your grams, tweets, lives and generally every move you make on the internet, and it's not just the FTC.
- Proper disclosures need to be clear, and before the 'more' cut-off on Instagram captions. Examples of passable disclosures:
- A simple disclosure like “Company X gave me this product to try . . . .”
- Starting a post with “Ad:” or “#ad” – which takes only 3 characters!
- Disclosures apply to non-paid endorsements just as much as #paid. If an influencer was incentivized to post by "gifting" the rules still apply.
Be straight up! As an influencer your audience comes to you because they trust you, and these rules help maintain that level of trust.
Photo Courtesy of @zooeyinthecity, who instantly makes conversations about "rules" much cuter.
In a recent press release the FTC cited that they reviewed petitions filed by Public Citizen, and affiliated organizations, regarding influencer advertising on Instagram. You heard that right -- a non-profit consumer rights group is lurking through YOUR (yes, you!) feeds, taking note of what appears to be sponsored and is not disclosing properly, and tattling on you.
Kyle Hjelmeseth, Founder of God & Beauty wants to draw attention to the influencer side of the matter.
"While reading government lingo isn't alway our favorite, the FTC has done a remarkable job at making their guidelines clear and easy for all sides to understand. I might even call their guides and blogs on the subject "fun". Influencers need to know that this is just as much their responsibility to play by the rules, as it is mine as a manager, and the brands' on the receiving end of the endorsement."
Moral of the Story
Be straight up! As an influencer your audience comes to you because they trust you, and these rules help maintain that level of trust. In most cases your followers don't care when they see the disclosure, but no one likes to feel deceived.
PS -- we were hard pressed to find a statement on "what if" from the FTC, as in "here is what could happen to you if you do not comply". But do you want to rumble with the government?
Little tip from the Top
While Instagram doesn't seem to specify a maximum total number of caption characters, it does note that, within users' feeds, the caption is cut off after the first three lines. For that reason, it's advised to limit captions to 125 characters. (Lindsay Kolowich)
Need a little guidance on how to maneuver through #spons and #ads?
We'd love to help your brand or client build a campaign the smart, and legal, way!
The Press Release: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/04/ftc-staff-reminds-influencers-brands-clearly-disclose
The Letter: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-reminds-influencers-brands-clearly-disclose-relationship/influencer_template.pdf
The Whole FTC Guide: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking