Discuss. Debate. Inspire.
I will reiterate: I am not a lawyer and the content below is not legal advice. This is a recap and interpretation of the information provided by the FTC and can be found HERE
The FTC-Queen is back!
This isn’t my first (or last) post about guidelines, but I wanted to revisit FTC disclosures; especially for all the newbies out there! Back in 2015 I wrote a post about Giveaways, and how A LOT of bloggers are holding these illegally. One about Privacy, and how obtain and use the information provided to you. Then, in 2016, I wrote an informative post about FTC guidelines, and how to remain compliant.
I’ve been asked on several occasions to clarify FTC guidelines, and my curiosity got the better of me. I took to Twitter and did a poll:
I am… rather shocked, that 40% don’t even know what the FTC is??
So, how well do you know, and understand, the FTC guidelines and how to disclose?— Sweet Valen T (@tonyaleeh) February 11, 2019
1.) I got this!
2.) I probably need some guidance.
3.) I know all about it, but don’t do it.
4.) Uh, what’s the FTC?
Honestly, I am surprised at the low votes on #3; not gonna lie. Simply because after all this time, I still see bloggers hosting “illegal” giveaways, and not adhering to the FTC guidelines; especially on Instagram. I don’t consider myself the “guideline police” per-se, but I do find it disconcerting when individuals don’t educate themselves on it. If I know the information, I feel semi-obligated to share. Thus, here we are!
Keep in mind, you don’t HAVE to follow my advice, but at least use it to educate yourself and take it into consideration. There are numerous resources, and you can get all of this information on the… FTC website.
Not much has changed honestly – but there’s been a lot more elaboration to social media posts, and how to post about those endorsements.
First and foremost, and this is a given, anytime you receive ANYTHING from a company to endorse and/or review, yes that means a free book, you must disclose it. Most bloggers know this, and even do this. But what we might get tripped up, is when we cross-post. Goodreads, Amazon, etc. And when we are discussing said product and not “reviewing” it.
Your readers need to know, and understand, the relationship.
I see blanket statements on a blog’s sidebar that state they “receive books for free from the publishers in exchange for and honest review,” and while this is nice, it needs to be on every. single. post. Your readers need to know, and understand, the relationship.
Not only must you disclose that you received said item, you must disclose every time you endorse said product. This again, would be more common on social media.
That being said, you cannot review, or praise to a product, you haven’t tried. You also can’t praise a product you disliked. Basically, you can’t LIE. I would assume this is… obvious.
How to disclose on social media
When promoting items on social media that you are endorsing, the hashtags #ad – #sponsored – #promotion – generally suffice. However, those hashtags needs to be on the TOP or BEGINNING of the post, so the reader is able to see it clearly, without hitting a READ MORE link/button. I’m looking at you, Instagram.
Here are a few other key points to keep in mind:
- You must also disclose, in every post, your relationship with the/a “company” – i.e., a rep – because even if you purchased an item, your relationship with that “company” is contingent on your endorsement of their products as a whole.
- If you receive a coupon code for yourself, or others, you need to disclose your relationship, and #ad in your social medical posts.
- Each time you make an endorsement about a product you received, it must be disclosed.
General rule: if your readers/followers do not understand your relationship, you must disclose.
Whew. Confused yet? I know, it’s a lot. And I haven’t even gone into as much detail as I’m known for. And I will admit, and so will the FTC, that these policies are generally not policed, unless an issue is brought to their attention.
It’s unethical to not disclose.
But, let’s put that aside for the moment. How upset would you be you purchased items based on a review, yet they were paid to say those things and you didn’t know? Hell, maybe you wont care; a lot do though, including myself. It’s just unethical to NOT disclose.
Food For Thought
How many of you knowingly ignore the guidelines provided by the FTC? Yet, you wonder why the integrity of Book Bloggers is questioned, and why we’re not taken more seriously?
- Are you familiar with the strict FTC guidelines?
- Do you disclose?
- Did you vote!? What was your vote?
- Would you be bothered by purchasing an item based on it’s endorsement, only to then find out they were paid?
- Have more questions? Ask below or send me an email!
Tonyalee is an avid reader, gym junkie, coffee addicted workaholic and blogger. Be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram for random shenanigans.