EdenFantasys is being represented at Type-A Mom this weekend by myself, Jenn, the Off-site Review Program Manager / Blogger Relations and manager of the Ambassador Program; and Victoria Bowman-Steinour, our Marketing Director. We’ve met dozens of super-cool bloggers, even had dinner with a few of them, and have had the opportunity to attend several informational sessions on all things relating to blogging, including blog rebranding, marketing to social media moms, building a business with branding, putting together a media kit (very useful if you’re planning on reaching out to companies for product review, giveaway and advertising opportunities!), and knowing the legal issues bloggers face. The latter session interested me the most, because as a blogger and a manager of bloggers for EdenFantasys, it’s important that I know what flies and what doesn’t in terms of blogging and abiding by the FTC guidelines.
For those of you that didn’t get the chance to attend the Legal Issues for Bloggers, which covered, among other things, abiding by the FTC guidelines, I’ve put together a quick and hopefully helpful list that you can bookmark or print out to keep in mind and reference as needed when blogging, and especially when partnering with companies to produce product reviews, sponsor giveaways, or participate in some other type of partnership whose end result is you presenting a company and its products or services to your audience.
For reference, the FTC, or Federal Trade Commission is an independent United States government agency that promotes consumer rights and protection, while at the same time preventing and eliminating harmful business practices, including — but not limited to — deceptive arrangements with bloggers and other brand ambassadors, coercive and bribed actions towards companies and consumers, and even the management and enforcement of the country’s Do Not Call List.
Now, with all that detailed info out of the way, keep the following tips and guidelines in mind. Also, keep in mind that the FTC does not want to limit or prohibit bloggers working with companies. Rather, they want to regulate the interactions so that clear disclosure is always provided, in order to avoid deceiving both bloggers and their audiences.
FTC Guidelines for Bloggers:
Clearly disclose any relationship with a company or an advertiser. This can be done on a per-post basis, which means that you include a disclosure somewhere at the beginning or end of your post; or, you can provide your disclosure on a site-wide basis. The latter is usually accomplished with a “Disclosure Policy”, which clearly establishes the fact that you work with companies who provide you with products or monetary compensation in exchange for you promoting them and their products/services. (Need help putting together a disclosure page? Generate one at DisclosurePolicy.org!)
Even if you have a site-wide disclosure, you should strongly consider adding a small and brief disclosure to the bottom of every company-related post. You can keep it short and sweet, i.e. “This post is sponsored” and include a link to your site-wide disclosure policy page.
Create an About or Partners page that lists both previous and current relationships with corporations. As an added bonus, this page can also entice prospective advertisers to want to add their name to the list by working with you!
Use a CSS element or the TITLE tag of affiliate links to differentiate them from your regular, non-sponsored links.
Always use your own words when disclosing. Keep your blog and your brand your own by avoiding pre-made disclosure notices and policies. Feel free to use pre-made templates, but you should always revise them so they reflect your voice and fit your brand.
Many bloggers were very anxious over the FTC’s decision to oversee relationships between bloggers and companies. But ultimately, their involvement and guidance, as well as the resulting FTC blogger guidelines, are here to protect all of us. By disclosing our relationship with companies, our readers have a better understanding of where we’re coming from. Just as importantly, we’re showing our readers we respect them by taking the time to let them know that we were paid or otherwise compensated to promote a company or review its products — and in return, we’ll gain additional respect from our readers. Finally, the FTC guidelines make it simpler for companies and bloggers to create and maintain working relationships, since any “lines in the sand” or “requirements” have already been established by the FTC.