FTC Rules for Social Media Sponsorships and Contests

February 19, 2018

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What’s This?

The FTC Rules for Social Media Sponsorships and Contests leave little room for error. This is incredibly important to bloggers and social marketers. We’ll give you the breakdown so you don’t get in hot water with the government when you promote your goods or run a social contest. Since these may change in the future, we recommend that you head directly to their FAQ for the latest updates from the FTC.

FTC Rules for Social Media Sponsorships and Contests

The most important thing you need to know is that sponsorships need to be “clearly and conspicuously” disclosed. This means that your disclosure needs to be (and this is directly taken from the FTC website):

  • 1. close to the claims to which they relate;
  • 2. in a font that is easy to read;
  • 3. in a shade that stands out against the background;
  • 4. for video ads, on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood;
  • 5. for audio disclosures, read at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words con

 

What is an endorsement?

  1. Running a Pinterest or Instagram contest where you ask people to post images of your product in order to enter to win
  2. If your employees/contractors tweet about a client in a way that could be construed as promotional without disclosure
  3. Posting a picture of a product you received for free without an accompanying write up can be seen as an endorsement
  4. Writing or crafting social posts about a product for which you are being compensated either by a discount on a future purchase, entries to a contest, free product, or money

 

What is NOT an endorsement?

  1. Click to like, because at the moment, the FTC does not yet understand just how influential a like is to an overall campaign.

 

Sample hashtags for bloggers to use on sponsored social posts

What are the clear cut rules?




Basically, make sure you disclose by using #ad, #sponsored or #client in your Social Media posts.

Contest & Sweepstake Disclosure

If your contest or sweepstakes requires an endorsement, you need to require those who enter to disclose. It is on you (the brand, social media firm, or SMM manager) to make sure the people who enter the contest are disclosing by using hashtags such as #contest #sweepstakes. The FTC warns that hashtags such as #sweeps are too vague and do not fit the rules of disclosure. You can’t assume that a branded contest hashtag is enough for disclosure – for example #brandrocks is not sufficient

Blogger and Influencer Disclosure Rules

If you are a blogger or influencer, you’re better off disclosing your relationship with the brand by using hashtags such as #ad, #sponsored or #client

If you paid for the product yourself, there is no need to disclose as this is not a sponsorship. If a brand or company sends you the product, then it is considered a sponsorship and you need to disclose…even if they did not pay.

If you return the product, you may still have to disclose. For example, if you get to use the product for a month, that could be considered a sponsorship, so you are better off disclosing.

If you keep the product, disclose in a blog post, but still tweet about the product later, you need to disclose on each social post because the FTC feels it is deceptive since the people who see the social post may not see the original disclosure.

If you write restaurant reviews and your meal is comped, you need to disclose.

More Social Disclosure Rules

The FTC does not care that you only have 140 characters to promote your contest and disclose. You still need to use the hashtags #Sponsored #Promotion #Ad

You cannot use a hyperlink to a disclosure. You need to clearly use the hashtags #ad #promoted #sponsorship

Video Content Disclosure Rules

Due to how people consume video online, you must disclose at the beginning of your video AND you are encouraged to repeat on multiple occasions throughout your video. Same goes with streaming video, but these require disclosure throughout.

Tool to Manage Your Social Media Accounts

Now that you have a full understanding of what you can and cannot do when running promotions or contests on social media, you will need a tool to help you schedule and engage on social so you can get plenty of entries. Socialdraft is an all-in-one social media tool for teams. With Socialdraft, you can:

  • Schedule posts to Facebook business pages, LinkedIn business pages, Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest boards
  • Have multiple people work on the accounts with different types of permissions
  • Pull reports
  • Schedule reposts from Instagram to all your connected social networks
  • And much more

If you are curious about Socialdraft, take us for a spin. We offer a risk-free trial.

 

 

 

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