Four Things You Need To Know About The FTC's Influencer Guidelines

Jeremy Haile

Jeremy is the CEO/Founder of Sideqik. He has a passion for helping the world’s top brands build authentic relationships.

The government is cracking down on influencer relationships. Over the past couple of years, the conversations around brands and partnership transparency in influencer marketing have come under fire. A lack of disclosure in influencer content, faulty agreements, unmarked sponsorships and misleading advertisements have become a problem that's saturating the industry.

As Gen Z and millennials rally for more authentic and transparent communications between brands, influencers and their audiences, regulations must change to reflect the growing requirements for partnerships on social media. In November 2019, the FTC released a statement on its website containing a new guide for online influencers. The eight-page guide, titled "Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers," provides tips for when and how influencers should tell their followers about a relationship with a brand or advertiser. The document consists of outlined regulations for influencer partnerships.

Instead of combing through the document, we’ve analyzed the guide and found some interesting points. Here are a few key takeaways:

Interactions are endorsements.

In the past, engagements between social media users required no further insight into the relationship between parties — if one user enjoyed the content that another user had posted, they would "like" that content. However, as the line between personal and professional continues to blur, the distinction between personal and professional endorsements has become more prominent.

The FTC guide states that "tags, likes, pins and similar ways of showing you like a brand or product are endorsements." For influencers, these endorsements extend outside of brand partnerships. As a person who cites influence from others, any sort of interaction or engagement with another brand, account or user can translate into an endorsement. For influencers, this means monitoring the personal use of social media apps even further. Geotagging a coffee place you got brunch at last week can be seen as an endorsement of that brand, whether it was intentional or not. Liking the post of a similar influencer can be seen as an endorsement of their content, ethos and personality, even if the two users have never met.

In this case, influencers accept the trade-off for their fame with the acknowledgment that anything they interact with can reflect on their character and, therefore, their future brand partnerships.

To avoid problems with unintentional endorsements, influencers can post more meaningful content. Transparency and authenticity are important on social media, and this FTC guideline gives influencers the chance to create content directly related to their interests — and skip the fluff.

Disclosure language is important (but subjective).