Why Influencers Have To Disclose Paid Partnerships: The Rules According To The FTC
The most valuable thing about using influencers to market your product is that they are trusted by their fans. Consumers are more likely to engage with a product when someone they trust recommends it, rather than they are to engage with an ad that comes directly from a brand.
That being said, why should a consumer trust an influencer who is being paid to say the product is great? Because 9 out of 10 experienced influencers will not promote products they don’t personally like or use. If they did, they would quickly lose the trust of their audience.
So why taint a perfectly crafted post with #ad, #paidpartnership, #sponsored?
Because it is THE LAW.
When Influencer Marketing first hit Instagram and other popular social media platforms, there weren’t many regulations until the FTC stepped in. The FTC created rules to protect consumers from deceptive advertising. “Many consumers rely upon influencer recommendations in making purchasing decisions, and they should know when a brand paid an influencer for an endorsement because it affects the weight and credibility the consumers may give to that endorsement,” says Michael Atleson, a staff attorney for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
In the last year, the FTC has shared very precise guidelines on how to display the paid sponsorship for the influencer to legally post without penalties. Every time an influencer gets paid to post about a brand, they must have simple and clear disclosures within their caption to be compliant. They require influencers to disclose when they have any financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with the brand.
The #1 recommended rule for placing your disclosure is to make it instantly obvious. For example, if you are sharing a sponsored post on your feed, the disclosure (#ad #paidpartnership #sponsoredpost) should be clearly visible in the first few lines of the caption, not buried at the bottom of the list of hashtags. Most experienced influencers who practice lawful posting will put “Ad.” or “#Ad” at the very beginning of their caption. They must also do this on their Instagram & Facebook stories.
Do influencers have to disclose if they received a free gift from a brand?
Yes. If a brand sends an influencer something for free in hopes that they will endorse it, they have to follow the same FTC guidelines as if they were paid for the endorsement.
Is Instagram’s “Paid Partnership” feature FTC compliant?
The FTC says “ Don’t assume that a platform’s disclosure tool is good enough, but consider using it in addition to our own, good disclosure.”
What if I just want to tag a brand in a post because I really like them?
It seems like a stretch but the FTC considers this a relationship with that brand and therefore considers it an endorsement.
To read the full document of disclosure guidelines from the FTC, click here.