The Essential Guide to Disclosing Sponsored Content
In the chronically online world that we live in, it’s nearly impossible to scroll through your social media feed without seeing some type of sponsored content.
And what’s crazy is that this type of content isn’t just coming from your typical influencers and lifestyle bloggers out there.
Today, almost anyone can be an affiliate for almost anything, which means you’re likely seeing sponsored content from your average Joe and Jane.
While tapping into the world of sponsored content can be an AMAZING thing, as your legal bestie I’ve gotta be the one that breaks it to you…
Your sponsored content can actually cost you if you aren't careful.
While it might seem innocent when you’re sharing about different products you’re loving at the moment, if you don’t clearly disclose what you’re doing, it can come back to bite you BIG TIME – in the form of time and money. ⏰💸
So, if you’re dabbling in the world of sponsored content, let’s just make sure you’re doing it legally okay? Here’s how. ⬇️
How To Properly Disclose Your Sponsored Content
Use Clear, Concise, and Consistent Language
When it comes to sponsored content, the importance of clear and direct language cannot be emphasized enough.
When disclosing sponsored material, opt for language that leaves no room for misinterpretation by avoiding convoluted phrases and prioritize simplicity.
It’s best practice to place your disclosure prominently at the beginning of the content, whether it's a blog post, video, or social media post.
By making the disclosure one of the first things your audience sees, you set the tone for transparency and honesty, cultivating a relationship built on trust.
Use Hashtags and Other Labels
On social media, it’s important to emphasize your sponsored content even more in order to help your audience decipher between your regular content and sponsored content.
One of the best ways to do this is to use hashtags and other labels as tools for transparent communication. The best rule of thumb for social media posts is to disclose the ad before the break in the caption, NOT buried in the hashtags.
When sharing sponsored content, incorporate specific and widely recognized hashtags like #ad, #sponsored, or #paidpartnership so that they serve as clear indicators to your audience, but also align with industry standards.
Additionally, for video content specifically, you want to make sure the disclosure is included in the video itself AND on it by including #ad on the screen and in the caption.
Lastly, on platforms like Instagram, make sure that you also leverage built-in tools for branded content tagging to streamline the disclosure process, ensuring that your audience is well-informed about the promotional nature of the content.
Separate Sponsored Content Sections
If you really want to take things a level further (and honestly, I suggest doing so!), create a dedicated section for sponsored content on your blog, YouTube channel, or other platforms.
This is a strategic move that enhances transparency by clearly labeling a certain section to distinguish it from your regular content, making it easy for your audience to identify sponsored posts.
By organizing your content in this manner, you empower your audience to make informed choices about what they engage with, fostering trust and credibility in your brand.
Share Honest Reviews
In my opinion, one of the biggest questions that an audience has when it comes to sponsored content is, “do you REALLY use this product?”
As a blogger, influencer, or anyone creating sponsored content, it can be easy to fall into the affiliate marketing world and promote something just for the money.
But if you really want to build trust with your audience and lead with your genuine self, my suggestion is to ONLY partner with brands and companies that you actually use and always share your honest reviews.
Most brand partnerships have special requirements for the type of content you have to create, so always read the fine print and only agree to content creation requirements that you’re truly comfortable with!
Display a General Disclaimer on Your Website
In addition to disclaiming your sponsored content on social media, you also want to make sure you’re doing so on your website.
The main purpose of this disclaimer is to provide transparency and disclosure to your audience by letting them know that you can potentially earn commission from links throughout your site.
Disclaim Affiliate Links in All Posts
In addition to your General Disclaimer on your website you want to make sure that you are disclaiming your affiliate links in ALL of your blog posts as well!
While this technically isn’t a structured legal policy, it IS a simple statement that can save you from legal trouble in the future.
Failing to disclaim affiliate links, sponsored collabs and even gifted promotions, can land you in a lawsuit real quick and is one of the 4 most common legal mistakes that I see ALL business owners making.
For blog posts, you can say something as simple as this:
“P.S. This blog post contains affiliate links, but I only ever recommend products or services that I love and use myself!”
Learn More About Legal Social Selling
Overall, whether you're an influencer on Instagram, a blogger, or consider yourself to be just an average Joe or Jane looking to earn some passive income, adhering to these guidelines is essential for maintaining integrity and trustworthiness in your online presence.
By being open and honest about your sponsored content, you not only comply with legal standards but also foster a relationship of trust with your audience!
Remember, in the world of digital content, transparency is not just a best practice—it's a necessity.
If you’re looking for more support for selling on social LEGALLY, register for the free masterclass where you’ll learn:
- Best practices for marketing messaging and results claims
- Do’s and Don’ts of disclosures for sponsored posts, ads, and paid marketing
- How-to avoid common pitfalls and potential legal issues in social media marketing
- Best practices for using trending audio, memes and other forms of intellectual property
- Real-life case studies of FTC actions against non-compliant businesses
- Q&A session with Amber Gilormo, Esq., to answer all your burning questions
P.S. Here’s a few additional resources regarding sponsored content, affiliate marketing, and passive income: