Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidance titled “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers.” The guidance consists of a short, easy-to-read document aimed directly at those who work with brands to recommend or endorse products. It is intended to give those influencers tips on when and how to make good disclosures about their relationship with a brand, in particular to disclose when the influencer has a material connection in the form of a personal, family, employment, or financial relationship. However, it also serves as a good reminder to brands and advertisers themselves as to the FTC’s rules surrounding use of influences to increase brand awareness and promotion.
Specific advice from the FTC includes:
- A financial relationship is not limited to an exchange of money and includes receipt of anything of value.
- Tags, likes, and pins constitute endorsements of a brand.
- Disclosures should be placed so that they are hard to miss. The FTC provides specific ideas for pictures, videos, and live streams.
- Simple and clear language should be used.
- Influencers should not talk about a product they haven’t tried.
- Influencers cannot say a product is terrific if they thought it was terrible.
- Influencers cannot make claims for which the brand does not have substantiation.
(See Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers, November 5, 2019, available at https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/plain-language/1001a-influencer-guide-508_1.pdf.)