Digital marketing has evolved to make influencer marketing part of the standard marketing mix, for many brands. The rapid changes accompanying this shift can make regulation and oversight a moving target. 2016 saw a considerable crackdown on influencer marketing, in the form of increased scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Many prominent brands, unaware of the requirements for influencer marketing and the FTC, were sucked into the crackdown vortex.

Influencer Marketing and the FTC: Who Got Caught

Recent fumbles by Lord & Taylor and Warner Bros. have brought broad industry awareness to legal requirements surrounding influencer marketing. It is now, and has always been, our job as marketers to understand our legal responsibility.

All sponsored content is governed by the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines for native advertising. These guidelines require all paid social endorsements—regardless of platform—be labeled, as such. This extends to include disclosure of any relationship between a brand and an influencer, even if money is not exchanged, so as to be “honest and not misleading” to the reader.

Despite this, TapInfluence-sponsored research by Altimeter revealed that 48% of marketers “sometimes” or “never” require influencers to mark their sponsored posts with FTC-compliant disclaimers. New and emerging platforms and channels are no exception.

Influencer Marketing and the FTC: The Penalties

What are the implications of violating the guidelines, when almost half the marketing industry is not FTC compliant with their influencer marketing? First, it creates enormous legal exposure for brands. Perhaps even more importantly, it hurts the integrity of the influencer marketing industry as a whole. Transparency is the key to maintaining trust between brands, consumers and influencers.

Influencer Marketing and the FTC: Staying Compliant

TapInfluence has lead the way on influencer marketing disclosure for nearly seven years. We believe disclosure is required for influencer marketing with real influence. We rigorously track and follow FTC guidelines and work closely with both brands and influencers, to make sure everyone knows where the line is drawn.

TapInfluence’s opt-in influencer marketplace enables us to nurture relationships with conscientious creators. Our influencers choose to work with us, as opposed to having their information scraped from the internet, without their knowledge. Further, our influencer marketing automation platform includes standard disclosures, in every post, that make including disclosures effortless.

Influencer Marketing and the FTC: The Good News

When the FTC starts recognizing influencer marketing as a viable marketing strategy that need to be regulated, it means the strategy has come into its own. While there are more constraints, it also means influencer marketing works. Stayed tuned this week for more tips on influencer marketing and the FTC.