Top 5 Ways to Get the Federal Trade Commission’s Attention (and how not to)

In the wake of some noteworthy cases, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun to establish disclosures for influencer marketing on social media. If your business is using a paid blogger or spokesperson to sell to consumers on sites like Facebook and Instagram, making it clear and conspicuous is key.

Here are five ways you can create an influencer strategy that’s transparent to consumers and the FTC:

1. Demand Disclosure

If you’ve enlisted someone to promote your product or service, make it clear to him or her that they must disclose the nature of the agreement. If you’ve given them a free sample of your product so they can blog about it, have them state this up front. If you’ve comp’d them a weekend at your bed and breakfast so they can post about it, make sure this is clear in every entry.

2. Create a Kit

If you use several influencers, consider creating a kit that outlines what they need to disclose when advocating on your behalf. Include examples of blogs and posts that are correctly disclosed and provide them with your contact information should they have questions or need clarification. Think like an influencer and consider scenarios that would require disclosure. Don’t leave anything to chance. Some key points of disclosure can be found in this piece by Moxie.

3. Use Repeat Influencers

Influencers who advocate frequently on your behalf are more likely to be considered genuine, even if they are being compensated for their services. They’re also less likely to catch the attention of the FTC, which is keeping a watchful eye on influencer efforts that can appear disingenuous or spam-like.

4. Audit Your Influencers

Keep track of what your influencers are saying about your product and how they’re positioning their relationship with your business. Watch social media activity and make sure posts are disclosed properly. Check activity frequently until you’re confident your influencers are being transparent. If you come across examples that fall short, contact and correct them, and confirm that they understand why.

5. Observe the Marketplace

Social media influencers barely existed a decade or so ago, yet today they’re seemingly everywhere. It’s an evolving medium you can learn from daily by watching how other successful businesses use paid advocates to build trust, relationships and sales. Follow companies you admire and ones you don’t. Watch how their influencers are performing and take note of what works and what doesn’t. The more you understand the medium and those using it, the better you’ll be prepared to make the most of it.

Bonus Tip: Keep the FTC Close

The FTC was developed to protect consumers, so it pays to keep this institution top of mind whenever you’re considering an influencer campaign. The FTC’s website explains in considerable detail what it means to use endorsements, paid or not, and how to disclose them to the agency’s satisfaction. It’s not always easy reading, but slogging through several lines of legal explanations is far better than paying the legal consequences of not knowing what they are.

Creating an influencer campaign that meets your objectives, the needs of the consumer and the requirements of the FTC isn’t always easy. But the benefits of doing it right can far outweigh the challenge.

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