As they put it:“Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.
Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product – or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet. That common-sense premise is at the heart of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides.”
Sorry to inundate you with that huge snippet, but this is important stuff, you guys. Here’s one more – since they specifically give a blogging example:
“Say you’re planning a vacation. You do some research and find a glowing review on someone’s blog that a particular resort is the most luxurious place he has ever stayed. If you knew the hotel had paid the blogger hundreds of dollars to say great things about it or that the blogger had stayed there for several days for free, it could affect how much weight you’d give the blogger’s endorsement. The blogger should, therefore, let his readers know about that relationship.”
So, if a government agency is telling me to do something, we’re going to be doing that.
Part of the reason it’s so frustrating to see bloggers who don’t disclose is that they are deceiving their readers. Credibility is like gold to bloggers, and when I see bloggers who consistently are not disclosing, I usually stop reading. I don’t like not knowing when a post is influenced or not. It feels slimy when I recognize a sponsored post and don’t see any disclosure.
Let’s clear something else up too – compensation is not always monetary. If you get a free jacket to mention a store, it’s recommended to note that you were gifted the jacket. I usually use “c/o” which is commonly known to stand for “care of” for my gifted items.
However, if the gifted item resulted in a full sponsored post, there should be a full disclosure at the (preferably) beginning or end of the post.
An example of a full disclosure would be something like this: “I received a free bag of Doritos in exchange for this post, however all opinions are 100% my own.”
Disclosures also apply to social media. #ad or #sponsored will usually suffice for a compensated status update.
Amazon actually gives you exact wording to include on your site. If your site does not have their specific disclosure, you are in violation of their terms and could have your account shut down (and commissions unpaid) at anytime. See that exact wording here, section 10.
Unbelievably, a lot of bloggers still don’t have one.
(See our disclosure for Katie Did What here – http://www.katiedidwhat.com/disclosure/ )
I also have a line before every single post on my blog that goes like this:
“Post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy here.”
“Here” is a clickable link to my full policy. I also have a “disclosure” menu option included on my site’s top menu.
If you just Google “disclosure policy” you can find policy generators and helpful articles on wording to use in your own policy. I encourage you to get one up TODAY if you don’t have a page on your site for a disclosure policy.
Again, the FTC has a new page set up with a ton of specific examples to blogging. Find that page here: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking
Hopefully none of this was new to you, but if it was, I hope you take a look at the page I linked and start disclosing any compensated content on your blog. The rules and enforcement on this topic are only going to grow from here.