FTC Guidelines: Are You Making The Right Blogger Disclosures?

This spring, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its revised staff guidance publication, “Dot Com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.”  This article addresses the basics of what you, as a blogger, need to disclose when you publish a sponsored post or spread sponsored content over your social network.

Chrissy Watson Explains What Bloggers Need to Disclose in Sponsored Posts at Bloggy Law

Unless you were totally unplugged for the last few months- which I doubt because I know you’re a social media maven rocking multiple online platforms – you’ve received a slew of notices from your sponsors or media network agencies about blogger disclosures in sponsored posts, tweets, and social media status updates.

What exactly is a disclosure & when do you need one?

Here’s What You Need To Know About Making Disclosures

 

1. What is the FTC and what are “disclosures”?

What is the FTC?  The Federal Trade Commission enforces consumer protection laws and regulates commercial conduct in the offline and online marketplace, including online advertising, marketing, and promotional activities. The FTC’s “Dot Com Disclosures: How To make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising” is an FTC Staff guideline document that gives us an idea of what the FTC would consider unfair or deceptive acts under the law and sets forth certain best practices that online advertisers – including bloggers – should follow.

What are “disclosures”? Disclosures are your way of telling a reader, a follower, or a fan about your relationship with a corporate sponsor, brand, or company.

2. Why do I need to make disclosures?

  • It builds trust with your audience through transparency.
  • It’s the law.  The same principles of truth in advertising offline apply to online and social media advertising or promotional activities.

3. How do I make a disclosure in my blog post or on my social media platforms?

  •  Blog posts: Include a paragraph clearly spelling out your affiliation and/or compensation.
  • Tweets, Pins & Status Updates: Use understandable hashtags, like #sponsored.

4. When do I need to make the disclosures?

Immediately; every time.  Every post you publish that was sponsored by a company or brand or obtained through an affiliation with a media network must contain a disclosure paragraph.  If you use affiliate links in a post on or on your site, you must disclose them as affiliate links instead of just regular links to a product or company website.  Each time you send your post out into the social network, you must make the appropriate disclosures, and the same goes for tweets and status updates that don’t specifically mention your post, but do mention the product or brand.

5. Where do I make the disclosure?

  • Do it upfront.  Don’t bury it.
  • Make sure the language or hashtag you choose is understandable to your audience.

6. Why disclose if I’m not a “big” blogger?

  • Deceptive or unfair online advertising is against the law.
  • You could lose your readers and their trust simply by appearing deceptive.
  • You, or the brand, could be investigated and/or fined by the FTC.
  • Your direct sponsorships or contracts could be pulled by the brand.
  • Your media networks probably already require that you include disclosures.

Now that you know the general basics, stay tuned for our upcoming articles on how to make effective disclosures as a blogger and how to manage blogger campaign disclosures as a brand.

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Disclaimer:  This article is intended to be a general resource only and is not intended to be nor does it constitute legal advice.  Any recommendations are based on personal, not professional, opinion only.  For information on how to use this site, please read our Disclaimers and FAQ pages.

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