Have you ever wondered why we require influencers to include a disclosure pixel on their stories or the hashtags #sponsored and/or #ad before the unique “ooh.li” link on social posts? It’s to remain compliant with federal law.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) exists to protect consumers from unfair business practices both online and off line. When it comes to influencer marketing, the FTC requires that all influencers must disclose when content is sponsored or paid for, so the consumer knows the influencer was paid to create the content.

Recently, Lord & Taylor, a UK clothing retailer, was cited by the FTC for failing to follow disclosure guidelines relating to influencer marketing. Lord & Taylor’s influencer campaign compensated 50 fashion influencers with money and free product to post Instagram photos featuring a Lord & Taylor dress. These posts had zero disclosure within the sponsored content, and, what’s even worse, the brand’s instructions failed to instruct influencers to include the required FTC disclosure. When the clothing brand reached a settlement with the FTC, the entire industry was put on notice and Lord & Taylor received a lot of negative press. As a result, wise brands and influencer platforms now place FTC disclosure compliance as a top priority.

But it is not just enough to casually mention a post is sponsored or to bury it deep in the content. The FTC has strict methods of how one must disclose the sponsored status of content. All written sponsored content must include a statement transparently stating the influencer was paid by the brand or company to write the content. Linqia makes FTC disclosure easy for brands and infleuncers by requiring a disclosure graphic is placed at the beginning of each Linqia sponsored blog post. Influencers can easily insert the graphic in their content to remain a compliant with the FTC guidelines. If content is written in a language other than English, it still must have disclosure and it must be in the same language as the content.

Any sponsored social media posts must be clearly labeled as sponsored, either through the hashtags “#sponsored,” “#ad,” or in a short written message. The shortened hashtags “#spon” or “#sp” are not acceptable. In all cases, disclosure must happen at the beginning of the post and appear before any links provided by the content sponsor so audiences know they’re being sent to a brand’s landing page. 

For videos, there must be either a clearly audible verbal disclosure at the beginning of the video or written disclosure on a clearly legible title card at the start of the video (this does not apply to GIFs).

Everyone involved in influencer marketing is responsible for ensuring FTC dislcosure guideline adherence. Brands and influencer platforms must inform influencers of these guidelines, and influencers are responsible for following platform or brand instructions. If influencers fail to comply, they could face removal from an influencer program (possibly without any compensation) and placed on a blacklist for future influencer programs.

If you have any questions about disclosure in your Linqia sponsored content, do not hesitate to reach out to our Influencer Success Team at community@linqia.com.

Read more about Linqia’s official stance on disclosure here.