The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released an online pamphlet called “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers.” This pamphlet makes it easier for influencers and influencer marketers to understand and digest an otherwise long, detailed version of the FTC’s Endorsement Guides. While none of the guidelines have actually changed, this is a great time for us to share a refresher.

TL;DR:

  • When To Disclose: Influencers must disclose whenever there is a financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with the brand. Financial compensation includes anything of value you received to mention a product, not just monetary compensation. CLEVER always tells our influencers to disclose compensation and have since we started 10 years ago.

  • How to Disclose: Influencer disclosures must always be clear and conspicuous. CLEVER stays up-to-date with guidelines and our team checks every single post with a human eye to ensure all disclosure guidelines are met. We’ve done this since we started 10 years ago.

  • What Else to Know: Influencers must be truthful about their brand experiences. Influencers cannot make claims about experiences they haven’t, well, experienced. CLEVER has never directed our influencers to be untruthful or make false claims. This hasn’t changed in ten years.

WHEN TO DISCLOSE

Influencers must disclose whenever there is a financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with the brand. Note that financial relationships include monetary compensation and receipt of anything of value to mention a product (e.g., receiving free product in exchange for a post, mention, tag, or even review on a website).

Additionally, if a brand sends multiple products and an influencer shares a product they didn’t ask her to, she still has to disclose the relationship.

At CLEVER, we’ve always enforced this and include disclosure instructions for every program we’ve executed.

HOW TO DISCLOSE

The FTC has always advocated for “clear and conspicuous” disclosures, which is something we’ve always taken seriously at CLEVER — we check every single post with a human eye to ensure the guidelines are followed.

The following defines what “clear and conspicuous” means (and to reiterate, none of this is new):

  • The words ad, advertisement, sponsored, XYZ_Partner, XYZ_Ambassador are all acceptable disclosure terms.

    • Not allowed:

      • Abbreviations like sp, spon, or collab

      • Standalone terms like partner and ambassador (must have the brand name in front), or thank you (must explain what they’re thanking the brand for)

    • Hashtags are not necessary.

  • Disclosure doesn’t necessarily have to be placed in the front, but it shouldn’t get easily missed (e.g., at the end of a video or placed among a group of hashtags).

    • While some platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, have built in tools that influencers can use to disclose partnerships, it is not good enough for the FTC. Even when the tool is used, influencers must still include disclosures in their captions/content.

    • If the platform truncates captions after a certain length, the disclosure must appear before the truncation (i.e., above the fold), as the user shouldn’t have to click to see the disclosure.

  • For specific media types:

    • Picture-only posts (e.g., Instagram Stories): Add the disclosure as text over the image.

    • Videos: Add the disclosure as text over the video AND within the description. (Audio disclosures are not enough, as many watch videos without sound.)

    • Live Streams: Repeat the disclosure periodically.


       

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW

The FTC also highlights these guidelines:

  • Influencers can’t say a product is terrible when it’s terrific, and vice versa.

  • Influencers must have actually experienced/tried the product in order to create content about it.

  • Influencers can’t make up claims about a product that requires proof the brand doesn’t have (e.g., false scientific claims).

Again, these have been our best practices for a decade. We’d never direct or allow our influencers to be untruthful about their experience or make false claims.

 

If you have any questions about these refreshed guidelines or about our triple-vetting process that assures the highest quality influencers will create the highest quality content on behalf of your brand, please email us at info@realclever.com.