This is not going to be a very long post as there is exceptional content out there from really great sources on this topic, but I wanted to bring this information to the attention of my readers in case you have not come across it in your regular blog readings.
In 2009 the FTC published guidelines that impacted bloggers (I blogged about them here). Most bloggers and a lot of brands ignored them. One of the bloggers may have been you.
I would begin to pay attention.
In early March the FTC re-published guidelines (pdf here) that provided more detailed information on the how disclosures should be done when working with a brand on your blog and in other social media channels. The FTC has also started fining brands for not following the guidelines. As a blogger you should be aware of the requirements for sponsored posts or other activities and you should only be working with brands who follow the guidelines.
If you run across a company who is not willing to do so, walk away. I have. I recently dissolved a business relationship with a guest poster who would not allow me to disclose that the post I had written was a sponsored post in the post (I always disclose on my Disclosure page). I am unwilling to risk the blog I spent the last five years building for revenue that isn’t above-board. That is not my style. Never has been, never will be.
While the brands hold most of the responsibility, there are risks for bloggers too, not only from the FTC but from Google as well. You can get blacklisted by Google for buying or selling links. (Great post on that here.)
My advice to you, get informed.
The SITS Girls have done a great job explaining the FTC guidelines. Social Media Explorer has done a great job of pulling out the salient points of the guidelines. I also really appreciated the post from Beauty and Fashion Tech about how to make disclosure buttons – there is lots more info on this blog, check out the links under the About section for even more invaluable resources. I have new buttons that I have begun implementing on sponsored posts. You can see them here and here.
How about you? Have you heard about the FTC guidelines? Have they impacted you?
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