Influencers Beware! The FTC is following you.

Recently, the FTC issued a new guide “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” with three explanatory videos, that sets out the FTC’s guidelines for the disclosure that influencers need to state regarding their connection to a brand.

The guide goes into more detail, but the key points are:

  •   If you endorse a product on social media, it should be made obvious to the reader that you have a relationship with the brand — whether it be a personal, family, employment, or financial relationship (such as whether the brand pays you, or you get free or discounted products).

  • The disclosure should be prominently displayed and placed within the sponsored post itself, and not just mixed into a string of hashtags. If the endorsement is in an image or video format, the disclosure should be superimposed on the image itself and/or mentioned throughout the video.

  • The disclosure should be in simple and clear language, using terms such as terms like “advertisement” “ad” “sponsored,” “BRAND Partner,” and “BRAND Ambassador”. Abbreviated terms (like “sp,” “spon,” or “collab”) and stand-alone terms (“thanks” or “ambassador”) are not sufficient.

  • You must be truthful. Don’t say that you’ve tried a product when you haven’t actually tried it, or that a product is awesome if you didn’t really think it was. Don’t make claims about a product that can’t be backed up such as potential health or medical benefits of using a product.

Let the FTC’s previous warning letters and complaints, be a cautionary tale of how they are “following” influencers to monitor compliance. If you are an influencer, familiarize yourself with the disclosure rules. If your brand uses influencers for promotion, double-check that those influencers are complying with the rules, and that your own brand promotion policies are consistent with the rules. Doing so will help keep you and your influencers on the right side of the FTC and the law.