Just in case the Endorsement Guides, the FAQs, and the enforcement actions weren’t enough to educate your social media influencers in compliance, now there’s “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” compliments of the FTC. Written in plain English, accompanied by a short video starring one of the FTC staff lawyers, the guidance boils down the FTC’s rules to the basics. 

What can influencers post about? Only about products and services they've tried and actually like, and only about attributes for which the advertiser has independent substantiation.  

What must influencers include in their posts? A disclosure of their relationship to the brand, whether it’s based on receiving free or discounted products, or payment from the brand, or a connection to the brand through a personal, familial or employment relationship.

How must influencers make that disclosure? Clearly, conspicuously, early in the post, and repeatedly if in a live stream or video. They can say it in plain language, or use a hashtag, but the disclosure must be hard to miss and must be understandable. Superimposing the disclosure on a picture is fine.  A hashtag like #[Brand]Ambassador or #[Brand]Partner is fine too.  So is “#Ad” or “Sponsored.”  Just don’t bury the disclosure in a string of other hashtags.   And don’t assume that a disclosure in the influencer’s profile or use of a platform’s own disclosure tool is enough.

Will this become a new addendum to marketers’ agreements with influencers? Couldn’t hurt.