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FTC issued guidance for social media influencers who endorse products. The goal is to educate influencers that they are obligated to disclose relationships with brands when endorsing them.
When is an Endorsement Disclosure Required?
The FTC announcement instructs that payment for an endorsement is not the only circumstance that requires a disclosure.
Influencers must disclose if they receive free products or discounts. This also covers what the FTC describes as a material connection.
The FTC describes what a material connection is:
“A “material connection” to the brand includes a personal, family, or employment relationship or a financial relationship – such as the brand paying you or giving you free or discounted products or services.”
Disclosure Cannot Be Hidden
The disclosure must be placed in a prominent area of a web page where the endorsement is being made. It can’t be on another page or require an extra click to see the disclosure.
The point the FTC is making is that the disclosure must be right there with the endorsement in a way that is “hard to miss.”
The FTC also warns against trying to hide the sponsor status by using partial words like, “spon” and so on.
“Don’t use vague or confusing terms like “sp,” “spon,” or “collab,” or stand-alone terms like “thanks” or “ambassador,” and stay away from other abbreviations and shorthand when possible.”
FTC Endorsement Rules for Videos
There are requirements that the disclosure must be in the video, both spoken and superimposed on the video itself. It must be right there with the endorsement and cannot be hidden at the end of the video or on the description.
Endorsement disclosures must be repeated if it is being made in the context of a live stream.
The FTC guidance also reminds influencers that reviews of products that have not actually been used is a violation.
Here’s what the FTC said:
“You can’t talk about your experience with a product you haven’t tried.
- If you’re paid to talk about a product and thought it was terrible, you can’t say it’s terrific.
- You can’t make up claims about a product that would require proof the advertiser doesn’t have – such as scientific proof that a product can treat a health condition.”
Read the FTC Guidance for Social Media Influencers
Visit ftc.gov/influencers in order to read the guidance, download a PDF version as well as watch videos about the guidance.