Addressing the gray areas of the FTC blogger guidelines
No one wants to be the one who is made an “example” by the FTC – bloggers, brands and agencies included. However, the gray areas left by the FTC disclosure guidelines have many nervous. The truth of the matter is that if you are a blogger, brand or agency, and you already maintain a high standard of transparency, you are most likely covered. That means that giant red disclosure image you have on your blog, or are requiring bloggers to use, is the worst kind of unnecessary.
Each blogger, influencer or online media maker has his or her own style, and it would be a real travesty if he or she ever had to alter that style to adhere to a set of government guidelines. Disclosing the blogger-brand relationships within the prose of a blog post or the dialog of a podcast effectively safeguards all parties involved in the eyes of the FTC. It also allows online media makers to keep their style as well as maintain an honest and enjoyable relationship with their readers.
The Elephant in the Room
So what if you are limited to, let’s say, 140 characters when telling your readers about a post in which you review or discuss a product that was provided to you by a brand?
This very tough question really has no good answer yet. The best Twitter solution presented so far has been to add a hashtag to a status update. WOMMA has a suggested list of different tags to explain different relationships. They include:
An alternative would be to use the tag (client). This tag is used to disclose a relationship between a brand/company and the person tweeting.
Where do you stand when it comes to style vs. disclosure? As a blogger, do you feel you have had to change your style in regard to the FTC guidelines? Is there a good solution when it comes to using Twitter? We’d like to hear from you.