What You Need To Know About Sponsored Post Disclaimers

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Sponsored content is the meat and potatoes of influencer and brand partnerships. Sponsored post strategies and social media influencer marketing are a win-win for businesses and influencers. Brands can reach their target audience and grow their visibility while influencers make a living doing what they love.

The influencer marketing market has grown eightfold since 2016. This is good news for influencers and brands, but it also means that influencer marketing is more complex and thus more regulated. To prevent deceptive advertising by businesses of all sizes, the Federal Trade Commission has several guidelines in place for influencers that make sponsored posts.

Take the Machinima Inc. case as an example of why the FTC is getting more serious about enforcing guidelines. In 2015, Machinima was accused of paying influencers to promote the Xbox One on their YouTube channels and encouraged them to act as if their reviews were unsponsored and independent.

While the FTC seems to be more worried about large companies being deceptive, following disclosure guidelines is a must for everyone. 

The Basics of Sponsorship Disclosure

The person that directly benefits from the brand relationship (the influencer) is responsible for adding disclaimers to their sponsored content. When posting sponsored content on social media platforms or in blogs, the poster must make their affiliation with a brand clear to their followers.

Though the FTC only enforces laws for the United States, these social media disclosures also apply to people that post from outside the U.S. if “it’s reasonably foreseeable that the post will affect U.S. consumers.”

Disclosures Should Be Front and Center

Sponsored post disclaimers should be placed right before or after the endorsement message so that viewers or readers can easily and quickly see and understand the point of the post. Hashtags like #ad and #sponsored can be used to accomplish this on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, and these should be readily visible as opposed to being thrown in or “hidden” with other hashtags.

If the sponsored content is in the form of an image or other digital media with no descriptive text such as on Snapchat or Instagram Stories, the disclaimer still needs to be visible. It can be added as text over the image and should be shown on-screen long enough for people to read it.

In video formats such as YouTube, the brand/influencer relationship should be mentioned aloud as well as disclosed in the text description.

The bottom line is that clear language should be used, and the sponsorship disclaimer should be very visible and easy to understand. It’s often a good idea to use several different disclosure methods to ensure the audience is aware of an influencer’s financial or personal relationship with a brand. 

When Do You Need To Disclose?

In addition to monetary gain, sponsorship disclosures should be present if the influencer has received free products, discounted products, or special access to services in exchange for a promotion or shoutout. Put simply, a disclosure needs to be included in any situation where an influencer/sponsor gains something of value in exchange for mentioning or promoting a product.

In Review

Sponsored post disclaimers must be present on every sponsored post or content piece. These disclosures should be front and center and easily understandable, and the kind of disclosure required depends on the type of content being posted. It’s good practice to state the brand relationship in more than one place if possible, such as using spoken disclosures as well as written ones in the descriptions of video content.

The point of sponsored content is not to deceive but to benefit the business, the influencer, and the consumer all at once. So, remember to stay transparent and have fun putting together some creative sponsored posts!

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