Every country has its own regulations about disclosing sponsored content, but the basics are the same. It is against the law in many places for a celebrity or influencer to persuade a consumer to purchase something without letting the consumer know they’ve been paid to promote the product or service.
It’s important to make sure your audience knows when you’ve been paid to promote a product, especially if you frequently review products without sponsorships. The success of your social media career depends on the relationship you’ve built with your audience, so you should always put their best interest first.
Be transparent about your business relationship with your sponsor.
When you’re working with a company, make it obvious right off the bat. Use clear, easy-to-understand language. Speak or write as you normally would. Don’t just read off or copy and paste the legal disclaimer provided by the company. Instead, put it in your own words to make sure all of your viewers can understand it.
Sponsored videos are not the place for subtlety. Your viewers trust your opinion, so they should be aware of any outside factors influencing it. If they feel they’ve been misled, they won’t be interested in your future reviews or sponsored videos. Therefore, go out of your way to make it as obvious as possible that the video is sponsored. Some content creators add a watermark in the corner of sponsored videos that says “ad.”
Put the disclosure at the beginning of the video or post.
If you’re creating a sponsored video, put your disclosure statement right after your intro. Say hi, then tell your viewers about the company you’re working with. Write it in the top of your video description as well.
If you’re making a sponsored post, put your disclosure statement at the top. A hashtag at the end is not enough.
Basically, your viewers or followers need to know as soon as they press play on a video or start reading your Instagram caption that the content is sponsored. If they don’t know it’s sponsored until the end, then they may feel as if they were misled. Again, your audience’s trust in you is important to your career, and following the regulations for sponsored content disclosure will ensure you prioritize that relationship.
Make the disclosure statement in the same format as the sponsored content.
When you make sponsored content, the disclosure must be in the same format as the content itself. For example, if it’s a video, then the disclosure must be a part of the actual video.
In a sponsored video, the disclosure statement must be verbal. Don’t put it only in the description or as a watermark in the corner of the video. Look into the camera and tell your viewers that you’re working with or partnering with the company. Tell them if you were sent free products, too.
For a sponsored post on social media, having the disclosure in your caption should suffice. However, if you’re posting on a story, then include a text overlay that says “sponsored.”
Check the exact legal requirements for your country.
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of disclosing sponsored content, be sure to check out the exact legal requirements for your country. Laws vary by region, so look into requirements by state, province, or territory as well.
If you’re in the US, then you should research the FTC guidelines. In 2017, the FTC sent letters to several influencers and celebrities reminding them of these guidelines. The agency takes consumer protection very seriously, so failing to disclose your relationship with a sponsor could land you in hot water. You can learn all about the FTC guidelines you need to follow in the video below.
In the UK, your regulations will come from the FCA, which has created a handbook of regulations to help influencers like you. Any content creator may find these guidelines helpful, so be sure to check out the FCA handbook here.
If your country doesn’t have specific guidelines of its own, base your disclosures off one of these.
When in doubt, put your audience first.
Overall, your audience’s best interest should be the first thing on your mind. If a sponsor insists that you try to skirt the rules about disclosure or mislead your viewers in some way, then don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal.
If you break your audience’s trust, then you may not be able to create successful sponsored content in the future. However, if you carefully disclose your sponsorships and only promote products you love, then you’ll be in good shape.
Sponsored content comes with ethical ramifications as well as legal. Think about the influence your choices can have on your impressionable viewers. If an influencer you admire posted about your sponsor, how would you feel about the product? Consider the image and values a sponsor represents before making the post.
Sponsored content is an important way for social media influencers to make their income. As long as you follow the proper legal guidelines, there’s virtually no limit to how much you can make through sponsored content.
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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.