FTC guidelines for Instagram Influencers


What is the FTC?

First things first. The Federal Trade Commission, otherwise known as the FTC, exists to protect consumers. Their mission is, “protecting consumers and competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” In short: they want endorsements to stay honest and true. As influencer marketing continues to increase and brand partnerships rise - large companies have nearly doubled the amount of creators they activate in the past 2 years, the FTC will continue cracking down on their guidelines.

What are their guidelines and when do they apply? 

When the FTC was established, blogs and social media didn’t exist. However, the rules still apply. Advertising is advertising, so whether it’s a traditional medium, such as television or print, or a new way, like blogs and Instagram, the rules apply - so listen up! It’s important to remember that the more honest you are, the more you’ll build trust with your audience.

For someone in the industry who follows a lot of bloggers and possesses the knowledge that brands do sponsored posts or gift products, it may not seem “necessary” to disclose this information. However, for someone not in the industry, it’s extremely important. Think about it  this way: if someone was raving about a product and then you come to find that they’ve been paid to talk about it, you would have wanted to know this upfront. Not because you think they’re not being honest, but because this information is valuable and it might affect how you see this advertisement. The audience needs to clearly understand the relationship between you, the blogger, and the company.

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So - when do these guidelines apply? Unless you paid for the product by yourself or received it for free at a store not by the company, you must properly disclose the guidelines, meaning you need to share that you’ve been gifted product or you’ve been paid to share your thoughts on the product.

Many times during brand partnerships, these guidelines will be stated in their contract, including that you must put #Ad or #Sponsored in your post. However, if they don’t, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to. Regardless of whether the brand or not mentions FTC guidelines, you always need to disclose properly.

Where to place them?

Many bloggers keep a general disclosure on their website. While this is great, each post needs to contain its own because the odds of someone missing the general disclosure is great. On all platforms, your disclosure needs to come before someone would have to “click more.” This means, in a caption it must come before the line break. In an Instagram story, it must be fully legible, rather than making the text very small.

Additionally, when using affiliate links, you must clearly state that you will receive a small commission if they purchase through your link. If you use affiliate links in a blog post, a disclosure at the beginning of the post is necessary. There is no exact language that is needed, but instead, it’s important to make sure everything is clear between your relationship to the company and how you get paid.

For more information about FTC guidelines, their website has a full breakdown with examples included.  If you need working through these partnerships where FTC guidelines come into play, we’re here to help! You can sign up here with our foundation plan to get access to strategy calls and any other support you may need.

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