In continuation to last week’s Blog Disclosure Questions Answered by the FTC, Part 1, below is the second installment to questions submitted to us by many blogger and which we got answers for from FTC policy experts.
Q. How detailed should the disclosure be? What should it include?
The point is to give readers the information. Your disclosure could be as simple as “Company X gave me this product to try . . ..”
Q. What are some definite red flags for the FTC reading sponsored content?
Red flags can be anything that could potentially mislead your readers. And remember, competitors of the advertiser and other consumers may notice misleading endorsements too.
Q. How much disclosure is needed on Twitter and Facebook?
Again, truth in advertising is important in all media – including on Twitter and Facebook. The FTC isn’t mandating the specific wording of disclosures. However, the same general principle – that people have the information they need to evaluate sponsored statements – applies across the board, regardless of the advertising medium. A hashtag like “#paid ad” uses only 8 characters. Shorter hashtags – like “#paid” and “#ad” – also might be effective. Plain English works too!
Q. If a long-term brand ambassador discloses on Twitter and Facebook, do they still need to disclose on every tweet and/or update about the brand?
It depends on whether his readers understand he’s being paid to endorse that product. If they know he’s a paid endorser, no disclosure is needed. But if a significant number of his readers don’t know that, a disclosure would be needed. Determining whether followers are aware of a relationship could be tricky in many cases, so a disclosure is recommended.
Q. What are some implications for not disclosing?
There is no fine for not complying with an FTC guide. However, if concerns about possible violations of the FTC Act come to our attention, we’ll evaluate them case by case. If law enforcement becomes necessary, our focus will be advertisers, not endorsers.
Q. What does someone who works with a brand as a contractor have to disclose?
If there’s a connection between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed. This principle applies to contractors working as endorsers for a brand too.
A big thank you to the blogueras that contributed the questions and Justice Fergie for getting these questions answered.
Do you have any more questions or need more explanations? Please share in the comments section below.