I always say 2018 is the year when everyone is wising up on Instagram rules, so even if you don’t get fined, you may still look bad if you don’t have transparency and comply to the law when doing your sponsored posts.
Influencer Marketing is not that new. It’s simple: people trust people, more than they trust brands. This concept is not new: celebrities have been endorsing products for over a century (I just made that number up but it sounds accurate!), but Instagram collabs just became mainstream. With the recent changes in algorithm, micro-influencers are on the raise, which means even your non Insta-famous friends may be doing collaborations with brands.
But neither brands nor influencers fully understand the laws of social media partnerships. And it’s important they do so no one gets hurt, or in this case, fined. Ask Lord & Taylor.
We had a poll on our Instagram stories and had 70% of the people get the basic rules of disclosure wrong. A good amount of them were brands and influencers who currently engage influencer marketing. So we decided to share some information with you guys.
When does a post need to disclose it’s an ad or sponsored?
Here’s what most people doesn’t seem to know: Influencers doing posts in exchange for product also need to disclose it as an #ad.
“Basically, the FTC requires you to disclose your endorsement relationships with a businesses whenever a “material connection” with that business exists. Material connection can include everything from being paid, receiving a gift, or even having a business or family relationship with the business” (from Later.com).
What is the proper way to disclose?
In the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s own words:
- Keep your disclosures unambiguous. Vague terms like “Thank you,” “#partner,” and “#sp” aren’t likely to explain to people the nature of the relationship between an influencer and the brand. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to make that disclosure, but an unfamiliar abbreviation or cryptic word subject to multiple interpretations probably won’t do the trick. Approach the issue by asking yourself “In the context of this post, how can I make the connection clear?”
- Make your disclosures hard to miss. In addition to what you say, consider where you say it and how it will look to consumers on the devices they’re using. People should be able to spot the disclosure easily. But if they check their Instagram stream on a mobile device, they typically see only the first three lines of a longer post unless they click “more.” And let’s face it: Many people don’t click “more.” Therefore, disclose any material connection above the “more” button.
- Avoid #HardtoRead #BuriedDisclosures #inStringofHashtags #SkippedByReaders. When posts end with a jumble of hashtags, how likely is it that people really read them? That’s why a “disclosure” placed in a string of other hashtags isn’t likely to be effective.
Make sure you get familiar with the Endorsement Guides.
While the FTC will usually fine a brand and not an influencer, if you’re an influencer, don’t don’t think this is the brand’s responsibility. As a professional you should guide them in the right direction. Even if you don’t get caught, your followers will appreciate the transparency and see you as a professional. This will only make you have more influence.
– Manu, Founder of Your Social Team