This is a quick summary of the current FTC Guidelines for Review and Affiliate Bloggers guidelines for advertising and marketing disclosures is for you.
Do you engage in any of these activities via your blog or social media sites?
- Receive free products to review
- Share affiliate links
- Receive tangible compensation for a blog post or social media shoutout
If you answered “yes” to any of those, then this quick summary of the current FTC Guidelines for Review and Affiliate Bloggers guidelines for advertising and marketing disclosures is for you.
The main point of these guidelines is to protect consumers against fraud by requiring transparency.
Keep in mind that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is the governing body for the USA. Bloggers in other countries need to check their guidelines to ensure compliance.
Be Clear and Conspicuous
Your readers should know up front what the relationship between you and the sponsor is.
The FTC asks that your disclosures should “clearly and conspicuously” point this out.
In a blog post, you could simply write “I received this book free to review.”
Or you can blend it more seamlessly into the text: “The complimentary book I received has never left my bedside table.”
Make it Front and Center
When possible, put your disclosures at the beginning.
On your blog, it’s good to be up front in the first or second paragraph.
This is especially important because people don’t always read the entire blog post.
Readers often miss disclaimers that are written at the end of a post.
Keep in mind that Tweets are often abbreviated, especially on mobile devices, place the disclosure hashtag near the beginning or in the middle: #ad (advertisement), #aff (affiliate link) and #sponsored are acceptable.
Don’t make up a hashtag or use an unfamiliar abbreviation.
Don’t post a “review” of a product you’ve never tried.
If your post is a paid advertorial, clearly disclose that you have been paid.
Don’t say it was wonderful if you hated it.
Don’t make claims that can’t be proven (“this diaper cream will cure any rash!”).
FTC Guidelines for Review and Affiliate Bloggers
FTC guidelines warn against “misleading or unsubstantiated representations.”
If you are wondering about how to bring old blog posts up to speed in regards to FTC guidelines, try adding a phrase like this to your post template: “This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. Please read my disclosure policy for full details.”
Is a blogger who disregards the rules going to get caught?
In fact the FTC has taken action in the past, but it is also a fact that they are not currently “monitoring” blogs.
The conclusion is that you will get noticed by the FTC, especially when all it takes is one consumer complaint to create a problem with the FTC.
Both bloggers and Legacy Learning were involved in a lawsuit resulting in a $250,000 settlement because affiliate compensation was not disclosed by either side.
Last but not least, a blogger in North Carolina was faced with jail time when he made claims about the Paleo diet curing his diabetes.
Recent Updates to Social Media Disclosures (updated September 7, 2017)
The FTC recently clarified disclosure requirements for social media and you can download the .com Disclosures document here.
What are your thoughts about the FTC’s marketing guidelines and how they apply to bloggers?