The social media platform I use has a built-in feature that allows me to disclose paid endorsements. Is it sufficient for me to rely on that tool? It still depends on an evaluation of whether the tool clearly and conspicuously discloses the relevant connection. One factor the FTC will look to is placement. A key consideration is how users view the screen when using a particular platform. For example, on a photo platform, users paging through their streams will likely look at the eye-catching images.
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Therefore, a disclosure placed above a photo may not attract their attention. Similarly, a disclosure in the lower corner of a video could be too easy for users to overlook. Second, the disclosure should use a simple-to-read font with a contrasting background that makes it stand out. Ambiguous phrases are likely to be confusing. For example, simply flagging that a post contains paid content might not be sufficient if the post mentions multiple brands and not all of the mentions were paid.
The big-picture point is that the ultimate responsibility for clearly disclosing a material connection rests with the influencer and the brand — not the platform. How can I make a disclosure on Snapchat or in Instagram Stories? You can superimpose a disclosure on Snapchat or Instagram Stories just as you can superimpose any other words over the images on those platforms. The disclosure should be easy to notice and read in the time that your followers have to look at the image.
In determining whether your disclosure passes muster, factors you should consider include how much time you give your followers to look at the image, how much competing text there is to read, how large the disclosure is, and how well it contrasts against the image. You might want to have a solid background behind the disclosure. Keep in mind that if your post includes video and you include an audio disclosure, many users of those platforms watch videos without sound.
Obviously, other general disclosure guidance would also apply. What about a platform like Twitter? How can I make a disclosure when my message is limited to characters? However, the same general principle — that people get the information they need to evaluate sponsored statements — applies across the board, regardless of the advertising medium. Indeed, if ad is mixed in with links or other hashtags at the end, some readers may just skip over all of that stuff. The person posting in social media could just be thanking a company or brand for providing a great product or service.
Depending on the context of the endorsement, it might be clear that the endorser got the product for free and kept it after trying it. Also, that disclosure might not be sufficient if, in addition to receiving a free product, the endorser was paid. I provide marketing consulting and advice to my clients. Such one-word hashtags are ambiguous and likely confusing. Many consumers are unlikely to know what it means. However, even if the language is understandable, a disclosure also must be prominent so it will be noticed and read.
If I write an article sharing my thoughts about the resort destination, how should I disclose the free travel? The Guides say that disclosures have to be clear and conspicuous. What does that mean? Consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily.
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They should not have to look for it. In general, disclosures should be: A disclosure that is made in both audio and video is more likely to be noticed by consumers. Disclosures should not be hidden or buried in footnotes, in blocks of text people are not likely to read, or in hyperlinks. Where in my blog should I disclose that my review is sponsored by a marketer? I've seen some say it at the top and others at the bottom. Consumers may miss a disclosure at the bottom of a blog or the bottom of a page.
A disclosure at the very top of the page, outside of the blog, might also be overlooked by consumers. My posts, videos, and tweets will be in Spanish. The connection between an endorser and a marketer should be disclosed in whatever language or languages the endorsement is made, so your disclosures should be in Spanish. When in the review should I make the disclosure? Having it at the beginning of the review would be better. Having multiple disclosures during the video would be even better.
Of course, no one should promote a link to your review that bypasses the beginning of the video and skips over the disclosure. If YouTube has been enabled to run ads during your video, a disclosure that is obscured by ads is not clear and conspicuous. The playthrough — which will last several hours — will be live streamed. Would a disclosure at the beginning of the stream be ok? Since viewers can tune in any time, they could easily miss a disclosure at the beginning of the stream or at any other single point in the stream. If there are multiple, periodic disclosures throughout the stream people are likely to see them no matter when they tune in.
To be cautious, you could have a continuous, clear and conspicuous disclosure throughout the entire stream. The most important principle is that an endorsement has to represent the accurate experience and opinion of the endorser: The Guides give the example of a blogger commissioned by an advertiser to review a new body lotion.
The blogger is subject to liability for making claims without having a reasonable basis for those claims. My company runs contests and sweepstakes in social media. No, it is likely that many readers would not understand such a hashtag to mean that those posts were made as part of a contest or that the people doing the posting had received something of value in this case, a chance to win the contest prize. My company runs a retail website that includes customer reviews of the products we sell.
We believe honest reviews help our customers and we give out free products to a select group of our customers for them to review. What we care about is how helpful the reviews are. Do we still need to disclose which reviews were of free products? And even assuming the reviewers in your program are unbiased, your customers have the right to know which reviewers were given products for free.
Also, reviewers given free products might give the products higher ratings on a scale like the number of stars than reviewers who bought the products. Therefore, if you give free products to reviewers you should disclose next to any average or other summary rating that it includes reviewers who were given free products. Is that good enough? My company wants to contact customers and interview them about their experiences with our service.
If we like what they say about our service, can we ask them to allow us to quote them in our ads?
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Can we pay them for letting us use their endorsements? Yes, you can ask your customers about their experiences with your product and feature their comments in your ads. For example, if customers are told in advance that their comments might be used in advertising, they might expect to receive a payment for a positive review, and that could influence what they say, even if you tell them that you want their honest opinion. I don't have any money for advertising, so I need publicity.
You should also inform potential reviewers that the discount will be conditioned upon their making the disclosure. That way, other consumers can decide how much stock to put in those reviews. A company is giving me a free product to review on one particular website or social media platform.
If you received a free or discounted product to provide a review somewhere, your connection to the company should be disclosed everywhere you endorse the product. Does it matter how I got the free product to review? The key question is always the same: If consumers knew the company gave it to you for free or at a substantial discount , might that information affect how much weight they give your review?
My company wants to get positive reviews. We are thinking about distributing product discounts through various services that encourage reviews. Some services require individuals who want discount codes to provide information allowing sellers to read their other reviews before deciding which reviewers to provide with discount codes. Other services send out offers of a limited number of discount codes and then follow up by email to see whether the recipients have reviewed their products.
Still others send offers of discount codes to those who previously posted reviews in exchange for discounted products. All of these services say that reviews are not required. Does it matter which service I choose? I would prefer that recipients of my discount codes not have to disclose that they received discounts. Whichever service you choose, the recipients of your discount codes need to disclose that they received a discount from you to encourage their reviews.
Our company uses a network of bloggers and other social media influencers to promote our products. What kind of monitoring program do we need? Will we be liable if someone in our network says something false about our product or fails to make a disclosure? Advertisers need to have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor members of their network.
The scope of the program depends on the risk that deceptive practices by network participants could cause consumer harm — either physical injury or financial loss.
For example, a network devoted to the sale of health products may require more supervision than a network promoting, say, a new fashion line. Here are some elements every program should include: Your company is ultimately responsible for what others do on your behalf. You should make sure your public relations firm has an appropriate program in place to train and monitor members of its social media network. Ask for regular reports confirming that the program is operating properly and monitor the network periodically.
I have a small network marketing business. Advertisers pay me to distribute their products to members of my network who then try the product for free.
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How do the principles in the Guides affect me? You should tell the participants in your network that if they endorse products they have received through your program, they should make it clear they got them for free.
Advise your clients — the advertisers — that if they provide free samples directly to your members, they should remind them of the importance of disclosing the relationship when they talk about those products. We pay and direct the influencers. What are our responsibilities? Like an advertiser, your company needs to have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor the influencers you pay and direct.
What do I have to disclose? Where should the disclosure be? If you disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously on your site, readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement. In some instances — like when the affiliate link is embedded in your product review — a single disclosure may be adequate. When the review has a clear and conspicuous disclosure of your relationship and the reader can see both the review containing that disclosure and the link at the same time, readers have the information they need.
As for where to place a disclosure, the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous. The closer it is to your recommendation, the better. Neither is placing it below your review or below the link to the online retailer so readers would have to keep scrolling after they finish reading. Yes, the same guidance applies anytime you endorse a product and get paid through affiliate links.
Do I still have to disclose that I get a commission if people click through my website to buy the product? Your Guides give an example of a celebrity spokesperson appearing on a talk show and recommend that the celebrity disclose her connection to the company she is promoting. Does that principle also apply to expert endorsers?
The same guidance also would apply to comments by the expert in her blog or on her website. I work for a terrific company. Can I mention our products to people in my social networks? How about on a review site? If your company allows employees to use social media to talk about its products, you should make sure that your relationship is disclosed to people who read your online postings about your company or its products.
You definitely should disclose your employment relationship when making an endorsement. Does she need to disclose that she works for our company? If the post is an ad, then employees endorsing the post should disclose their relationship to the company. All of our employees agree to abide by this policy when they are hired.
However, you should establish a formal program to remind employees periodically of your policy, especially if the company encourages employees to share their opinions about your products. What about employees of an ad agency or public relations firm? Moreover, employees of an ad agency or public relations firm have a connection to the advertiser, which should be disclosed in all social media posts. Agencies asking their employees to spread the word must instruct those employees about their responsibilities to disclose their relationship to the product they are endorsing, e.
My company XYX wants to tell our employees what to disclose in social media. It's a lot easier to understand and harder to miss. Can we do that? That leaves advertisers with two choices: Have adequate proof to back up the claim that the results shown in the ad are typical, or. Clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the circumstances shown in the ad. How would this principle about testimonialists who achieved exceptional results apply in a real ad?
The Guides include several examples with practical advice on this topic. Our company website includes testimonials from some of our more successful customers who used our product during the past few years and mentions the results they got. What should we do? Do we have to remove those testimonials? There are two issues here.
First, according to the Guides, if your website says or implies that the endorser currently uses the product in question, you can use that endorsement only as long as you have good reason to believe the endorser does still use the product. Second, if your product is the same as it was when the endorsements were given and the claims are still accurate, you probably can use the old endorsements if the disclosures are consistent with what the generally expected results are now.
The Guides offer more than 35 examples involving various endorsement scenarios. Send them to endorsements ftc. We may address them in future FAQs. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. As a coupon website, promocode. It's a wise decision to choose us and spend much less on your favorite items with Actorsguide. Enjoy fantastic savings with 1 coupon codes and promotion sales and many in-store deals.
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