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Today’s post is brought to us by Fran of Mayhem and Moxie. Fran is fabulous blogger, mom to 2 (and one on the way) and has her MBA (so she is like totally smart.) You’ll be seeing her tweeting and Blog Frogging for Bloggy Boot Camp as she is now a “co-host” of the fabulous events!
There are few words that gets me quite as excited as “free.” However, the reality is that “free” usually comes with strings attached…especially in blogland. Things are never as easy and lovely and super quick as they are often seem.
In a time when blogging has come under the scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission (aka the FTC), it’s hard to if you are doing everything correctly when it comes to giveaways and reviews. What are you required to disclose? Lucky for me, I attended Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore back in March. During the conference, Stacey Ferguson deciphered the legal implications of sponsored blogging.
Based on her talk, I put together a top 10 list of things you should know when it comes to giveaways, reviews, and disclosing…
10. The FTC is not concerned with genuine consumer promotions or product reviews.
9. The intent of the FTC guidelines is to protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices. It is not intended to be a thorn in your side, decrease your web traffic, or hamper your creativity. J
8. The new FTC guidelines apply to all areas of social media, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and everything in between.
7. Ads are deceptive if they are likely to mislead consumers about something important, such a consumer’s decision to use or purchase a product.
6. Free products qualify as compensation. Just because you do not have a check in your hot little hands, doesn’t mean you have not been “paid.” If you receive something tangible for promoting a company, you are required to disclose.
5. Similarly, if you work on behalf of an affiliate program, such as Google or Amazon, and receive a product to review or promote on your blog, you need to disclose.
4. Disclosures on your blog should be clear and a part of the post so that they cannot be missed. Examples:
- Acme Co. provided this product for me to review.
- XYZ Co. sent me to Adventureland to experience their theme park.
- On Twitter: #paid, #ad.
3. The FTC is not monitoring every blog on the Internet. It simply is not possible. For the most part, they are monitoring advertisers to ensure that they have acceptable social media policies and training in place. (Translation: You most likely are not in danger of being investigated by the FTC if you posted about BBQ sauce last year and did not disclose the fact that you received a bottle in the mail for free.)
2. Even if you do create a disclosure statement for your blog, you still need to clearly state your connection to the advertiser or PR firm in your post for the specific product you are reviewing, giving away, etc.
1. If you gush, be sincere. Don’t overly hype a product, especially if you do not stand behind what you are saying. If your audience (and the FTC) ever figures it out, your credibility will be lost. And let’s face it, in blogland, credibility is about all we have.
So now that you know a bit more about the FTC, what should you do next? We’d hate for this excitement to end here, so here are a few ideas…
- Click over to Mayhem & Moxie where I am talking about my go-to sites for driving traffic to our contests and giveaways. Sharing is caring, girls.
- Learn more about this topic by checking out the current FTC guidelines for yourself.
- Write a disclosure policy for your blog. If you are looking for examples, you can find them here at DisclosurePolicy.org.
A special thank you to Stacey Ferguson for providing her slides from her presentation at the Baltimore Bloggy Boot Camp. You can read more about Stacey on Mamalaw, an award-winning parenting lifestyle blog, where she writes with 2 other mom lawyers, as well as on her personal blog, Food”e”. She is also a co-Coordinator for the Blogalicious Weekend conferences.
Now, let’s play a game.
Leave a comment below with a link to your favorite recent blog post and then go visit the person ahead of you in roll call!
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