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FTC Has Updated Disclosure Guidelines for Social Media Marketers
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This article has been updated on 5/9/2023 with the article entitled “Head Off Punishment by the FTC by Following Their Social Media Marketing Guidelines.”
Well, for the first time since 2010 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has updated its FAQ page for endorsement requirements. For those who are unfamiliar, the FTC is the agency that enforces U.S. truth-in-advertising laws. 90% of you still probably don’t know what I’m talking about since it seems like social media marketers aren’t exactly away that there are certain regulations on posting. Whether you know or not though, there is an agency that enforces these laws and they are becoming more specific when it comes to posting and running contest or promotions on social media. Essentially the FTC’s point stays that any material relationships between brand and endorser on social media must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed and they are diving in further by providing a detailed guideline on social media issues that have come to light in the last few years.
What does this mean for social media marketers? Well, you should be aware that the FTC is starting to pay more attention to activity, and specifically marketing, on social media platforms. Because things like this can be a little sticky, my best advice is to be transparent as possible. Hiring celebs or an influencer to talk up your brand? Say so. Holding contests with incentives/prizes and promoting and running them on social media? Disclose, disclose, disclose. If you have a connection with a company, brand, figure, etc, then you should be disclosing.
Here is the full list of guidelines on the FTC website if you’d like to check them out in more detail.
Meanwhile, here’s my breakdown for you.
If it’s a sponsored post/ad/video/etc., you need to say so.
Even if it’s a tweet on Twitter. You still need to use a few characters to throw in something like “ad” “sponsored” or “promotion”. You can’t just stick in your bio section that you may have some paid influencers or freebies you promote. Every post, every time, you need to state if it is a paid influencer.
Disclose every time.
If a celebrity or influencer is promoting a product or service, they need to say so. Every time. Every time they post about the product, they need to disclose the paid relationship with the brand. Every tweet, every video, every pin.
YouTube guidelines have changed.
Now, it’s not enough to simply have a disclaimer in the details page. A disclaimer has to be made at the beginning of the video. In fact, the FTC would prefer more than one disclaimer for longer videos. This applies to all streaming video promotion.
If you’re running a sweepstake or promotion, be clear about that.
Using a hashtag for your contest is fine, but be sure that it reiterates the fact that it’s a contest. #Summer2015 is not good enough. #Summer2015Sweepstakes is better.
Fake Facebook likes are a no-no.
This one is hard to regulate, so the FTC is recommending against incentivizing likes. Because Facebook shut down “like gates” last November, this should be a fairly simple one to follow.
Still nervous that you might mess up? Like I said before, when in doubt –disclose. Again, check the full list of guidelines over on the FTC’s site. What do you think? Will marketers follow through? Will the FTC be cracking down? Questions? Comment below!
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Breanne is a Content Writer, Social Media Marketeer, and Sales Associate for Sprocket Websites. Other posts by Breanne Bannon