Skip Ad? Disclosing Sponsored Posts
As a blogger, celebrity or influencer you may well be reluctant to disclose that content posted is sponsored through fear that your loyal followers will feel that your views are biased. There’s no avoiding, that using the hashtag #ad or #sponsoredpost indicates some personal benefit, if not actually income, from the particular brand or product.
You’d rather them not know that you are being paid to promote a brand. But failing to disclose your sponsored posts means that you are running afoul of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines.
Whilst influencers clearly have a moral responsibility to disclose brand collaboration, it’s the brand which is legally responsible and thus liable for any non-disclosure. That’s why brands often provide influencers with word for word text including hashtags to be posted so as to satisfy disclosure requirements. Celebrities such as Scott Disick and Naomi Campbell have made mistakes by copying and pasting the exact words the brand has sent them on their posts #fail.
It’s no wonder then, that some influencers are reluctant to disclose their sponsored brands, even if they do genuinely like the brand, since they fear a negative impact on the perceived sincerity, authenticity and truthfulness of their opinions.
Honesty is the best policy however, because followers are not only generally aware that influencers receive some benefit for some posts, but they are also aware that as a responsible influencer you only collaborate with brands which match your style and you would actually use yourself.
So that’s why you should disclose your sponsored posts. As to when and how you should disclose some general suggestions follow; but please do keep in mind that this is not legal advice We do highly recommend you take a look at the official FTC guide, and rely on specific guidance from your sponsors as we do not cover all areas, some of which may apply to you.
When and How to Disclose Your Posts
When is your post actually considered an ad? Whenever a brand compensates you in any way whatsoever (including gifting, being invited to an event, or a free trip and of course payment), you must disclose it.
Posting a picture on Instagram with a brand’s product, is considered endorsement. You could disclose it by including hashtags in your caption such as #endorsement #promotion or you could do it indirectly with the use natural language, such as”I worked with X brand for this post”, “X brand is featured”, “X brand sent me this product to try”.
If you are promoting a brand on multiple social media platforms ensure that you disclose your posts on each platform. For example if you share an Instagram post on Facebook, you should include a disclosure on all posts independently, a single disclosure for all posts is not enough.
Disclosing sponsored posts on Twitter are less common, being wrongly excused by the limited character usage. However including the hashtag #ad is only 3 characters and is enough to get the message across #noexcuses.
Statements that your posts are sponsored should be clear and easy to find, preferably at the beginning of your caption. Avoid including them at the end of your caption or hiding them amongst other text or hashtags.
Using abbreviations such as “Ad” or “Promo” is enough to inform consumers that your post was sponsored by the brand. However using made up abbreviations which are not in common usage such as “Spon” is not considered proper disclosure.
When in doubt disclose #bettersafethansorry !