FTC Updates Influencer Social Media Guidelines: Are You Compliant?
When it comes to influencer marketing on social media, what is considered an advertisement, sponsored content or a brand partnership is a gray area. Although all these types of posts help to increase your company’s brand awareness, they each have their unique benefits and now, regulations. On social media, it is challenging to figure out when an influencer genuinely likes a product or service or if they are being paid to endorse a company. That is why the Federal Trade Commission updated its endorsement guidance providing greater clarity for what creators can and cannot write when sponsoring a brand. Here is what you need to know with the newest guidelines:
Clearly Indicate When It’s an Ad
With the new FTC guidelines, influencers must make sure to include captions that clearly indicate they are receiving some form of payment for their endorsement. An influencer must use hashtags that clearly communicate that they are promoting a brand or product. #ad and #sponsored are a must on influencer posts, and abbreviations or modifications are not acceptable (#spon, #sp, #partnership, etc.). In addition to the use of hashtags, an influencer must clearly communicate in the caption what they are receiving in the partnership whether it is gift cards to the store, early access to products or payment.
This Will Soon Include Freebies
The next expected step for the FTC is to add similar regulations for free products to influencers. Soon, these social media posts may also have to be labeled with #ad and #sponsored. It is the expectation that in the coming months, influencers will need to provide the same disclosure on freebies as all other sponsored content.
Each Platform has Different Rules
In addition to making sure your content is properly hashtagged and written, you need to start looking at each platform’s rules. As of March 2017, Facebook added branded content tags that puts the word “paid” at the top of an influencer’s sponsored post. As of June 2017, Instagram added a subhead tool that labels paid content as “paid partnership.” All influencers must include these tags and all other guidelines to properly show their post as sponsored.
Celebrities are No Longer an Exception
When you see Michael Jordan posting about Nike, you know he is getting paid for advertising the product. As influencers are gaining a large volume of followers and increasing their brand recognition, there is a gray area of whether influencers are, in a way, celebrities as well. With the similar brand awareness of celebrities, reality TV stars and influencers, they all need to follow the same rules. With the new guidelines, the FTC aims to identify all sponsored material by making everyone clearly label their paid posts as ads, regardless of fame.
If you would like more information or guidance on how to properly use social media as a part of your influencer marketing strategy, please contact Paradigm Marketing and Design for training and advice. Also, if you want to learn how to navigate the social media marketing world, register for our upcoming free webinar, “Navigating Social Media: Are You Wasting Your Time on the Wrong Platform?” on November 15th.