What Brands Need to Know About the Latest FTC Disclosure Guidelines


The FTC had a busy month. It brought its first action against a social media influencer for failing to include appropriate disclosures on sponsored posts, published an FAQ for its endorsement guide and turned its attention to affiliate marketing.

This stirred up lots of questions, so last week the FTC hosted an #Influencers101 Twitter chat to give brands and influencers more clarity on the subject.

It’s clear the FTC is ramping up its enforcement efforts. If you missed any of this, no worries. We’ve rounded up what brands need to know about influencer disclosure on social media.  

So, when should influencers disclose on social media?

The short answer: Always.

What about built-in disclosure tools on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram?

The FTC says built-in disclosure tools like YouTube’s paid promotion overlay, Facebook’s branded content feature and Instagram’s paid partnership tag are not enough. It’s possible that as these tools evolve the FTC will shift its stance, but for now, influencers should include their own disclosures.

Essentially, if a brand and influencer have a relationship, then clear and concise disclosure is a must. Below are specifics on what this means for each social channel and type of content.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Disclosure
In text-based posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, for example, this can be accomplished with #ad, #paid, #[brandname]Partner or ad (no hashtag required). The tag must be easily visible; placement at the beginning of an update is ideal. Do not bury the tag in a long list of hashtags.

Snapchat and Instagram Stories Disclosure
Influencers must superimpose a disclosure on images and videos shared on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. In a series of images or videos, the disclosure should appear on each one.

Pinterest Disclosure
Influencers have two options on Pinterest: Disclose in the pin description, or superimpose a disclosure on the image they are pinning.

YouTube Disclosure
Product review videos on YouTube must include disclosure both verbally and in the text description. This ensures people who watch the video without sound are still aware of the relationship. 

#[brandname]Partner Disclosure
This is new: The FTC accepts the use of #[brandname]Partner as sufficient disclosure. (For example, #DisneyPartner or #NikePartner.) The hashtag #partner is not enough—it must include the brand name. Similarly, #ambassador is deemed too ambiguous and doesn’t make the cut.

Giveaways and Freebies Disclosure
If a brand provides an influencer with coupons, product samples or giveaway items, then the influencer must disclose its relationship with the brand. Even in situations where the influencer isn’t paid nor is there any expectation the influencer will post about the brand, the influencer must disclose.

At Approach, helping brands build relationships with influencers is central to what we do.

Our account management teams work directly with influencer partners to ensure they understand disclosure requirements. And, we review every piece of sponsored content generated by influencers to ensure these requirements are met. Our one-to-one attention is critical to protecting both our clients and influencer partners.