It’s been three years since I wrote about influencer tips so I thought it’d be a nice revisit on the basics. I’ve seen quite a few social media posts now where either the influencers or brands or both weren’t disclosing their relationships.

In October 2021, the FTC sent out official warnings to over 700 brands about their use of fake reviews. Fake reviews include using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims, not disclosing a relationship with an influencer, and misrepresenting the influencer’s experience as one of an ordinary customer’s.

The FTC has a comprehensive guide on endorsements, it is worth bookmarking for your next influencer campaign. The guide provides advice for regular consumers, individual influencers, and companies. The FTC also published a disclosure guide specifically for digital marketing.

Here are some highlights:

  • For influencers, disclosure needs to be “clear and conspicuous.” The small “in partnership” line above an IG post might not be enough so adding #ad or something similar above the “more” line in a caption is recommended. In stories, the text can’t be hidden away somewhere.
  • Businesses are also on the hook for disclosures and it does not matter if you use a PR firm. I am emphasizing this because I’ve seen PR firms not remind influencers about the disclosure need and their brand clients not follow up on any influencers. “Advertisers need to have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor members of their network.”
  • A relationship with a brand does not have to mean cash was exchanged. It also includes if you’ve been given a free product, a discount code to use, or given cash in the form of a gift card to purchase a product.
  • Yes, this includes giveaways.

The FTC is in the US so if you’re outside of it, you should check on your country’s laws regarding influencer disclosures.

Another way of thinking about it is this: if someone is gushing effusively about a product, would knowing that they were given the product for free or at a discount affect your perception of the review? Just disclose.