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Some Helpful Insight To Understanding How Not To Be Liable
If influencer marketing wasn’t already confusing enough, brands need to be aware that the FTC has actual regulations to crackdown on deceptive practices - and make sure consumers know they are being advertised to. In recent months, due to the massive influx of brands that have been hopping on the influencer bandwagon, the FTC has been taking this issue even more seriously.
For brand marketers that are fairly new to influencer marketing, implementing a successful influencer campaign while keeping it compliant can prove to be a lofty task. And making sure the brand, the agency and the influencer are not fined inthe process even loftier. Properly manuevering the legal roadblocks that the FTC has set up can be confusing...so, that's where we come in. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares insight on 3 things brands need to understand about FTC guidelines on social influencers to not be fined.
Be Direct With Your Hashtags
There was a time when the sneaky #partner or #sp hashtag mixed between a cluster of other hashtags worked. But, not anymore. The FTC is officially cracking down on influencers trying to sneakily hide their paid post hashtags. The FTC believes that it is the influencer’s job to make it clear to the consumer that they are being paid to work with a brand -- so much that it doesn't leave even an ounce of consumer doubt regarding the relationship between the brand and influencer. Therefore, an influencer must include either #ad or #sponsored in their post and it must be clearly visible to the consumer. Facebook makes it even easier by allowing the influencer to simply click a button that shows "paid" under the title. More on that below.
Some influencers are unhappy with this as they believe that the #ad or #sponsored hashtags don’t provide consumers with a clear picture of the relationship between them and the brand.
These type of hashtags, both of which are usually associated with traditional media, give the consumer the impression that influencers wouldn’t be working with these brands if it weren’t for them being paid. More often than not, that perception is simply untrue. Many of the brands that influencers work with are brands that they’d actually use; the money just happens to be a plus.
BE SURE TO: We are sure that there will be some push back regarding this in the future but for now, be sure to include either #ad or #sponsored in any posts to avoid being flagged by the FTC.
Free Product Doesn’t Protect You
There used to be a small loophole to get around having to reveal the nature of the relationship between a brand and influencer -- the almighty ‘free’ or gifting of product in exchange for a shout out. This was a ‘win-win’ situation for all parties involved -- brands could work with an influencer without having to shell out large upfront costs and influencers could get free product from tons of different brands all while never officially being “paid” and having to disclose these deals. Unfortunately, that’s not going fly with the FTC for much longer. Although they haven’t officially came out and put language forward regarding this issue, the FTC has hinted at it. So, be prepared to properly maneuver around this well.
BE SURE TO: Also include #ad or #sponsored in influencer posts that had free product provided.
The Platform You Use Matters
To make things even more confusing, the FTC will be regulating each platform differently. So, for any brands that choose to run a multi-platform campaign, be sure to be very careful about properly disclosing the nature of the influencer-brand relationship to avoid being dinged by the FTC.
To make this a little easier for brands and influencers, social media platforms are trying to come up with turnkey solution to make it easier to comply with the FTC. For example, both Facebook and Instagram have come out with features that allow verified accounts to include a “paid” tag on their content.
These additions greatly help brands and content creators to stay compliant but unfortunately, it’s not perfect yet. The FTC has come out and congratulated these platforms on taking steps in the right direction but have noted that until the FTC officially comes out with guidelines for each individual platform, brands and creators still risk being non compliant.
BE SURE TO: Make sure your influencer is including the #paid or #sponsored hashtag across all social platforms, or incorporates "Paid" under Facebook or Instagram.
On The Bright Side
One thing that all of us brand marketers and influencers can be happy about is the fact that the FTC has put forward these guidelines for one reason and one reason only, influencer marketing works! If it weren’t for an influencer’s real ability to influence a consumer’s purchasing behavior via curated content, then none of this would matter.
Sure, it can be a bit of a pain to make sure that each and every post is compliant, but there is a real silver lining in having to stay compliant. For brand marketers that are just now getting started in influencer marketing, working with an agency that has already ‘been there done that’ will make this process a lot smoother. In fact, here at Hollywood Branded, we know exactly what must be done to make sure that an influencer marketing campaign stays compliant with the FTC, and we are happy to help provide guidance.
BE SURE TO: Contact Hollywood Branded for additional insight and help to make sure your influencer marketing campaign stays within the legal guidelines.
And if you are interested in learning more about how to better make social influencer marketing work for your brand, check out some of our blogs:
Ready To Start Incorporating Influencers Into Your Campaigns?
Influencer marketing is still developing and will continue to evolve over the next few years. There are few brands who are not aware of the potential influencer marketing can have for their brands, and there are some steps along the way that help ensure success is found. Check out our Only Guide To Social Influencers You Will Ever Need by clicking on the image below!
AJ graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in entrepreneurship. Following his four year stint in college, AJ went on to launch his own marketing agency whose focus was to help brands better engage with multicultural consumers. It was during this time that AJ’s love for marketing and working with brands really began to blossom. Although quite elusive, this lovely bearded man can be spotted in any country in the world at any point in time, having already visited over 25 countries by the ripe age of 22. When not jet setting to the next location, AJ can be found eating weird foods (most recently a scorpion in Thailand), watching Chelsea FC win the English Premier League or sitting down with a bucket of kale watching an overly cheesy romance film.