In a recent press announcement, the FTC (America’s consumer protection agency) announced their first ever complaint against influencers. Up until now, exclusively brands have been targeted in these transparency cases. Such as in 2015 when Machinima collaborated with 5 Youtubers to promote the Xbox 1 … but now influencers are receiving warnings, too. In their latest investigation, the FTC notified 45 Instagrammers (and their representative brands) with cautionary letters indicative of their lack of transparency.
What are the legal regulations to follow when organizing influencer marketing campaigns? What constitutes transparency in 2017? Don’t take any risks; join us as we break down the legal implications of influencer marketing – for brands and for influencers.
The FTC’s guidelines can be summarized into 4 general rules:
Be totally transparent.
Every publication, post, video, etc. should contain an explicit statement about the financial collaboration between the influencer and the brand. Less common but still important, if you’re related to the influencer this should be transparent, as well. The disclaimer should be clear: #thanks, #spon, or other ambiguous hashtags don’t cut it. That being said, #sponsored and #advertising are acceptable along with the more classic “as part of a partnership with X,…”
Verify the visibility of the disclaimer.
Particularly in the case of Snapchat where the FTC advises putting the mention directly over the image. Also, be careful of automatic tagging which, when accompanied by text, could bury the disclaimer below the line of sight. For example, on YouTube, the mention should be visible without having to click “see more” in the video description.
Apply the same ethical rules you would with a traditional advertisement.
In short, it’s not allowed to make false allegations or brazenly lie about the qualities of a product.
If you’re unsure, consult the official FAQ.
Often partnerships with contests and coupons have indirect or optional compensation, complicating disclaimers. In uncertain scenarios such as these, it’s better to edge on the safe side and do more than not enough.
For more information, here’s an infographic from the official site: