Updated FTC Guidelines Impact on Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has become one of the leading focuses in today’s social marketing world. It has proven to be an effective way that brands are getting content spread and consumed by target audiences. It employs the notion that you can get a key person to testify something to their online audience about your product or service with the intent of creating a significant positive impact.

You see this type of influential marketing every day through the use of Influencers. A brand will compensate an Influencer via some form of incentive in exchange for a post on one or more of the Influencer’s personal social pages. Typically, Influencers are required to disclose that they are being sponsored in some manner by the brand they are promoting. In the spirit of this new form of marketing, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to make sure that these disclosures for sponsored posts are truthful and not misleading to the general public. Influencer marketers need to be aware of and follow these rules.

In March 2013, the FTC updated the .com Disclosures document. We wrote about those major updates in this blog post back in March.

One of the recent updates includes information about etiquette regarding these sponsored Influencers and how explicitly stated their disclosures must be. The reason is pretty obvious: knowing about the partnership is important information for anyone evaluating the testimonial. So what do brands and agencies need to know to remain compliant with these guidelines when utilizing Influencers for products or services?

Require Disclosure and Truthfulness in Social Media Marketing Outreach

Your Influencer needs to make their partnership with your brand known. The disclosure must be direct and clear that the Influencer has been compensated for their work and are publishing their content on your behalf. Also, Influencer posts must be honest opinions based on real experiences.

Disclosure Examples

When the Influencer is publishing on their Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest account(s) they need to explicitly state that this is a sponsored post.

Two examples are: #sponsor and #ad




Many times brands ask Influencers to write a blog post reviewing their product. The FTC states that the disclosure must be written in a clear and conspicuous manner that can be understood by the average reader. The disclosure should not be hidden at the bottom of the page in a five-point font. It should be clearly stated in the beginning of a post in the same context as the rest of the blog post.

An example is: “Brand X, provided me with a free supply of “product” in exchange for my review of “said product”. The opinions in this post are my own.”

Good example:

Good Example


Bad example:

Bad Example

Monitor the Conversation and Correct Misstatements

FTC Guidelines specifically state that brands that have recruited people to manage social media for them, whether it is an in-house community manager or an outsourced social media marketing agency, they are responsible for ensuring a good-faith effort has been made to have the Influencers correct any content that is not compliant with the FTC Guidelines. Ultimately the brands are 100% liable for anything that agencies do on their behalf, so it’s important to hold the agency accountable. If there is an issue, then the brand takes the hit.

Therefore, be smart and create a disclosure policy that complies with the law. Make sure the people who work for you or with you know what the rules are. And monitor what they’re doing to ensure that they remain compliant with the guidelines.

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