So you are a social media influencer. As the businessman and creative person that you are (after all, it took a lot of hard work reaching such a privileged position, right?), you are probably looking for effective ways of making a way of living through that status. What is one of the worst mistakes that you can make now? The answer: falling in the trap of non-disclosed social media endorsements. Keep reading if you want to know why.
GSGO Lotto owners settle FTC’s complain
Trevor Martin (aka: TmarTn) and Thomas Cassell (aka: The Syndicate) are about to settle an FTC’s Decision and Order charging that they deceptively endorsed the online gambling service CSGO Lotto. This wouldn’t be particularly problematic if it were not for the fact that they were promoting GSGO Lotto on their YouTube channels… without disclosing that they were co-owners of the company. The YouTube channels currently have more than 3 and 10 millions subscribers, respectively. The problem lies in Mr. Martin and Mr. Cassell’s breach of the FTC’s Endorsement Guides (also known under the not-so-sexy title of Guides concerning use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.)
Back in April, the FTC sent more than 90 “educational letters” to influencers informing them that if they were endorsing a brand, product or service, for instance by using a hashtag, and they had a “material connection” to them, this shall be disclosed in a clear and conspicuous manner. Below you can have a look at the first page of the “Dear Influencer” templates that the agency was using:
Recently, the FTC issued additional clarifications to these Endorsement Guides, that you may want to check as media influencer. The main idea is: if you have material connection, disclose. For instance, if you have a blog like this one, and recommend a book like this one, there are two options: that you simply like it, case in which there is no issue at all, or that you are using the Amazon Associates Program in order to get a percentage of the selling price, case in which there won’t be any issue either… unless you don’t disclose this fact!
The previous is just one among many examples that can be inferred from the clarifications. The bottom line is: be transparent. By mentioning these connection upfront you won’t lose credibility: quite the contrary, you will be cultivating trust among your followers.