When it comes to making a purchase, consumers will almost always attempt to get an honest review from someone they trust. Word of mouth carries more weight than any infomercial or glossy magazine advertisement. Consumers already feel that brands are often more concerned with their bottom line than the actual consumer experience, so they hope that an unbiased third party will stand on their side. YouTube vloggers and blogs of all sizes have found ways to capitalize on this need. Conversely, brands have found ways to capitalize on these bloggers and vloggers.
A blogger may agree to post a product review or host a giveaway on behalf of a brand in exchange for free product or financial compensation. The blogger gets to entertain his or her readers and make some side cash, and the brand gets cheaper publicity delivered straight to their target audience. Consumers are much more likely to trust a blogger’s honest review, because they feel that it is someone they can connect with. However, when there is money involved, the honesty and integrity of many bloggers may be questioned. This is why it is important to draft a disclosure policy.
What is a disclosure policy? A disclosure policy basically serves as the “fine print.” It lets your readers, followers, or viewers know that some content you put out may be sponsored, or that you somehow receive compensation from it. Disclosing does not indicate that everything you post is sponsored content, but it allows the reader to be aware of what goes on behind the scenes.
Why should you disclose? Well first and foremost, because the FTC says you have to. In order to insure the protection of the consumer, the FTC requires bloggers to clearly and conspicuously disclose when they’ve received products (solicited or unsolicited) to review on their blogs. Despite that, you should want to come off as honest and sincere to your readers and followers.
What should be included in your disclosure policy?
Websites like DisclosurePolicy.org
will help you draft a disclosure policy based on the content you put out. The policy should always mention who writes and contributes content and the forms of advertising accepted (or not accepted).
Where should you disclose? A full, clear and concise policy should be available in full on your blog or website. Consumers shouldn’t have to dig for this, it should always be visible and available. In addition to this, adding a small disclosure line at the bottom of a post is also helpful.
Example : This post was sponsored by Brand X for review. These are my honest views on Brand X.
On social media, using hashtags like #ad or #spon (short for sponsored) is also an easy way to disclose.
Are you disclosing? Do you think it’s necessary to disclose on social media? Let us know!