One of Law Of Runway’s New Year’s resolutions was to start this blog. We then realized that many other small business owners and fashion icons included blogging into their goals. Perhaps you trying to promote your products through others’ blogs. Perhaps you are starting or reviving your own fashion or beauty blog. Together, as we take on the second month of 2014, it is time for a refresher course on how the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulates the promotion of products on blogs and social media. There’s plenty of details surrounding this topic, and we understand that your situation could be unique. We’ll give some basic guidelines, but feel free to email either Rachel or Maria with your questions. We have coauthored this blog article. Email us at Rachel@lawontherunway.com or Maria@lawontherunway.com.
When bloggers and social media mavens promote products for compensation or perks from a business, this type of advertising is often called “Native Advertising.” This type of advertising has recently received a lot of attention from the FTC because it is one of the most effective types of advertising. Unlike advertisements that are located on the side of a blog, separate from the content, the term “Native” is when an endorsement of a product (an advertisement) is so intrinsically tied to speaker (as if it’s natural or organic) that it is likely that the consumers would be swayed by whatever that speaker states.
Let’s start with some broad rules. In their own blog, The Bureau of Consumer Protection offered the M.M.M mnemoic:
“1. Mandate a disclosure policy that complies with the law;
2. Make sure people who work for you or with you know what the rules are; and
3. Monitor what they’re doing on your behalf.”
Now, let’s drill down to understand which disclosure policies would comply with current laws. The FTC recognizes that applying these laws is very specific to each situation. The FTC stated that “The ultimate test is not the size or the font or the location of disclosure, although they are important considerations; the ultimate test is whether the information intended to be disclosed is actually conveyed to consumers.” The phrase that the FTC centers the analysis upon is “Clear and Conspicuous” disclosures.
To figure out if the blogger has sufficiently conveyed to the reader that she received a benefit from the business which she is promoting, the we encourage bloggers and social media promoters to follow these rules:
1.FTC has not specified the exact language of a disclosure, but you must explain the relationship.
2. Don’t assume that the reader will read your entire blog or even look at everything on their screen.
3. The more the reader has to scroll to see the disclosure, the less likely they are to read it
4. Draw attention to your disclosure.
5. Think about how the reader will differently interact with your article when it is on a smart-phone or tablet, and not a full size computer screen.
6. If a disclosure is long and won’t fit in a micro-blog or a tweet, alert consumers on where to read the disclosure.
7. Choose your hyperlink name carefully.