The Federal Trade Commission has issued a new guide for influencers that widens the scope of what they are encouraged to disclose.
“Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” released today, details when and how social media influencers should disclose their partnerships, both paid and unpaid. It is widely thought that influencers need only to disclose paid partnerships, but according to the document, influencers should disclose “when you have any financial, employment, personal or family relationship with a brand.”
Financial relationships, says the handbook, “aren’t limited to money,” and disclosure is encouraged if an influencer received “anything of value” in exchange for mentioning a product.
Tags, likes and pins are considered endorsements of a brand or product. If an influencer is posting from abroad, U.S. law applies “if it’s reasonably foreseeable that the post will affect U.S. consumers.”
The guide also lays out how influencers should disclose their relationships, stating that video endorsements should include a disclosure in the video itself, not just in the description field. Disclosures in live streams “should be repeated periodically” so viewers have less of a chance of missing them.
The handbook also states that influencers can’t talk about their experiences with a product if they haven’t tried it themselves. “If you’re paid to talk about a product and thought it was terrible, you can’t say it’s terrific,” it continues.
The reported $6.5 billion influencer marketing sphere has changed drastically over the past couple of years. Microinfluencers — and even nanoinfluencers — have emerged as the new favorite child, and editors at top publications have begun cashing in on their own social media influence.
The FTC has previously issued warnings to celebrities for disclosure violations. The new guide asserts the notion that influencers have a responsibility to be transparent with their followers about any and all brand relationships.
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