[FLASHBACK: OPEN POST: Are You Leary of Social Endorsements?]
It’s required by law that anyone who receives compensation for posts on social media, disclose that information in the post.
The FTC’s Endorsement Guides provide that if there is a “material connection” between an endorser and an advertiser – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless it is already clear from the context of the communication.
Just for the record, a “material connection” could be a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the gift of a free product.
Needless to say, there are many ‘influencers’ who aren’t following the law and now the FTC is cracking down on the violators…
After reviewing numerous Instagram posts by celebrities, athletes, and other influencers, Federal Trade Commission staff recently sent out over 90 letters reminding influencers and marketers that they should ‘clearly and conspicuously’ disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.
Instagram is the new ‘come up’ for many, as it’s convenient to pitch boutiques, hair and more online to the masses.
But you (the consumer) must be told that these are advertisements.
The FTC’s endorsement guide serves two purposes: 1) it clears up any confusions as to the relationship between the poster and the product, and 2) it clearly tags the post for tax purposes.
[Sidebar: Yes… income earned online is still TAXABLE! Duh!]
The letters provide specific instructions on how an Instagram ad should be disclosed:
The letters each addressed one point specific to Instagram posts — consumers viewing Instagram posts on mobile devices typically see only the first three lines of a longer post unless they click “more,” which many may not do.
The staff’s letters informed recipients that when making endorsements on Instagram, they should disclose any material connection above the “more” button.
The letters also noted that when multiple tags, hashtags, or links are used, readers may just skip over them, especially when they appear at the end of a long post – meaning that a disclosure placed in such a string is not likely to be conspicuous. (source)
Some of the letters addressed particular disclosures that are not sufficiently clear, pointing out that many consumers will not understand a disclosure like “#sp,” “Thanks [Brand],” or “#partner” in an Instagram post to mean that the post is sponsored.
The staff’s letters were sent in response to a sample of Instagram posts making endorsements or referencing brands. In sending the letters, the staff did not predetermine in every instance whether the brand mention was in fact sponsored, as opposed to an organic mention.
Right now, the FTC is addressing top earners like Amber Rose, Diddy, Akon and Lindsey Lohan (click HERE for a full list), but I’m sure that many of your favorite reality stars, instagram blawgs, beauty bloggers & YouTubers are up next.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that the FTC is out to protect the interest of consumers who are often duped into believe that their favorite stars achieved physical results by using certain products.