Failing to properly disclose your sponsored partnerships may lead to unfortunate consequences.
Some of the mainstream celebrities and YouTube influencers in the U.S. have already faced legal action for failing to mention their affiliation with certain sponsors.
Now the last thing you want is to be in the same position.
This post will round-up the key business and legal aspects of brand sponsorships and everything you wanted to know about proper disclosures.
ESTABLISH YOUR BUSINESS MODEL FOR SPONSORSHIPS
First things first – to keep all the ends on the safe side, you will need to decide what kind of sponsorships you feel comfortable doing and communicate those to possible partners during meetings.
The most common options include:
Production: A sponsor approaches you with a detailed request for creating and posting a certain type of content. They provide a storyboard and instructions that you need to follow and indicate the channels where you will then share the content.
Agency: A brand asks you to pitch, develop, and execute an entire campaign. They deliver certain instructions, but you are encouraged to be creative and propose your own terms. This campaign can be spread between your social networks and also appear on the brand’s channels.
Publisher: All the campaign materials are created and given to you by the brand (messaging, visuals etc.) and you are requested to share them across your network. Specifically, the brand here is interested in spreading their message to as many people as possible.
Branded Content: You are invited to collaborate on a media campaign and co-create content together. For instance, you are given a set of products to style and you film how you do this.
Brand Ambassador Programmes: These assume long-term commitment when you are signed-up to promote the product over a fixed amount of time (e.g during fall). You are specifically requested to make a certain number of posts/mentions and you are expected not to work with competitive businesses at that time.
Events: You are compensated to attend the sponsor’s event and share the coverage with your followers.
These six types of business models cover the most common types of sponsorship deals you can strike. All of them will involve certain financial compensation (even if it’s in form of gifts/gift cards) that needs to be disclosed.
THE KEY DO’S AND DON’T’S OF BRAND SPONSORSHIPS
Now it’s time for some legal talk (fret not – everything will be super simple!).
Depending on where you are in the world, you will have to comply with the official guidelines issued by FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in the US or CMA (Competition and Marketing Authority) in the UK.
Both organizations require influencers to clearly disclose any affiliation they have with brands in order to protect consumers from being misinformed.
Respectively, they have issued specific guidelines to follow.
FTC BEST PRACTICES
- You do not need to mention the amount you got paid to promote a brand.
- It’s still OK to tag brands that did not sponsor you. You don’t need to indicate that unless you want to. These guidelines only apply when an advertiser has compensated you for mentioning their product.
- If you were not paid for a specific post, but you do have working relationships with a brand, you will need to disclose that.
- These regulations apply when the post can affect U.S. consumers even if you are currently abroad traveling. Same applies if you are a non-U.S. influencer, but your content is targeted at US consumers and they comprise the majority of your following.
- Yes, you need to include disclosures in disappearing content on Snapchat or Instagram Stories.
- If a giveaway is sponsored by a 3rd party (not the brand), you must disclose the 3rd party.
- Even if a company has sent you something for free and did not explicitly demand any posts or offered a payment, you are still advised to disclose your affiliation.
- If you are adding sponsored content to Pinterest, it is also necessary to add a disclosure in the pin description.
- However, if you are sharing a blog post with affiliate links on other social media channels, no additional disclosures are needed (as long as they are present in the blog post).
Also, right now the FTC doesn’t think that the built-in disclosure tools on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are sufficient.
CMA’S ADVICE ON DISCLOSURE
The British authority has recently shared a letter to online publishers outlining the best practices for online endorsements and reviews.
If your audience hails mainly from the UK, pay attention to the following regulations:
- If you are compensated (financially or otherwise) to mention a certain product on your website, the content should be clearly labeled or identified as sponsored content.
- When including an ad or a product placement in video content, you should make a clear indication that this is sponsored. It could be onscreen text, signs, logos, or verbal explanations saying that you were paid to mention a certain product.
- When a certain brand has sponsored your vlog but does not have any control over it (didn’t provide a script for instance), this will not be considered an ad. Yet, you are still required to indicate that this is a sponsor.
- Promotional tweets and sponsored posts on other social media should be labeled as such with relevant hashtags (#ad, #spon, #sponsored) at all times.
These guidelines should give you the basic idea of good legal conduct when it comes to sponsored content. If you are feeling unsure in certain cases, it’s always better to disclose your affiliation with a brand. Your readers will appreciate the honesty too!
Are you a CD Babe? Get in touch with your support team or CD consultant for more insights, tips, and tricks!