For many creators, branded content is a vital revenue stream, but the degree to which influencers disclose their sponsored posts has not always sat well with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In its latest update, the FTC has sent 90 letters reminding Instagram influencers about the right way to mention any “material connection” they may have to a certain brand.
The main point the FTC stresses in its missive to creators is that the acknowledgement of sponsored content must happen in a way that is easily visible to consumers. Since, the FTC reasons, many Instagram users — especially those on mobile — don’t expand descriptions by clicking “More,” disclosure must occur within the snippet of text that accompanies the post as soon as it loads. As we have mentioned before on this site, hashtags like #sp do not satisfy the FTC, and placing disclosure within a long list of hashtags is in general not kosher, since many consumers skip over those lists.
“The FTC’s Endorsement Guides provide that if there is a “material connection” between an endorser and an advertiser – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless it is already clear from the context of the communication,” reads a press release from the FTC. “A material connection could be a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the gift of a free product.”
While individual creators are highly unlikely to face repercussions for improper disclosure of sponsored posts, several companies, such as Warner Bros, have gotten themselves in trouble for skirting the FTC’s guidelines. If you’re working with brands to create content online, make sure you’re complying with the FTC’s regulations, no matter which platform you’re posting on.