How to Follow FTC Guidelines on Your Blog and Social Media
Most bloggers hope to make some money from their blogs, and many of us do. There are many programs that allow bloggers to be compensated for their efforts. If you're involved with one or more of these programs, according to FTC guidelines, you must disclose your relationship with your blog readers.
What Types of Arrangements Require Disclosure
There are many types of arrangements with brands and companies that require disclosure:
· Affiliate programs
· Sponsored posts
· Products that you receive for free to review and/or giveaway
A Disclosure Page Isn't Enough
For years, many bloggers had a disclosure page tucked away somewhere on their blog that said that yes, they do make money from the products they endorse on their blog.
Then bloggers tried to be more transparent by putting a statement at the end of their post mentioning that they received some type of compensation for their efforts.
While it's still good to have both a disclosure page and a statement at the end of any post you potentially can profit from or have written because you received an item for free, neither of these methods is enough thanks to tightened FTC disclosure rules.
How to Disclose
Now you must disclose as closely as possible to the product that you are endorsing. There are several ways to do this.
If you received an item for free in exchange for a review, you could simply say, early in the review (ideally the first time you mention the product), "Company X sent me Product Y for free to try out with my family." Now, you have clearly disclosed your relationship with the company.
Another option, perhaps when you're including affiliate links, is to either put (affiliate) immediately after the link or to include a hyperlink immediately after your referral link that takes the reader to your disclosure page.
The FTC wants the disclosure to immediately follow the affiliate link because if you have your disclosure statement at the end of the post, the reader may click on the link and make a purchase without even reading to the end of your post to see your disclosure.
Other Places You Must Disclose
Disclosing on your blog is not enough. If you're tweeting about a product, you must clearly disclose your relationship to the company and product by stating Ad or #ad. FTC guidelines clearly say that the words used for the disclosure must be understood by the general population, which is why (spon.) is not acceptable. Not everyone knows that (spon.) stands for sponsored.
You'll also have to disclose on all your other social media sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and other sites that you use.
Most advertisers understand the need for transparency to meet FTC guidelines, and some companies even give bloggers the disclosure statement to insert in their posts. If a company asks you not to disclose, realize that by doing so, you're violating FTC guidelines.
How do you disclose on your blog? Have you changed this method thanks to tightened FTC guidelines?