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The Power of The Influencer and The FTC

The $5 billion influencer industry is booming with an endless stream of fresh, aesthetically pleasing, and seemingly authentic figures. And the growing importance of social media in today’s digital world means that influencers will continue to shape the desires of consumers at an increasing rate.

A key component behind an influencer’s sway on their audience is perceived authenticity — and the FTC has taken notice. Advertising and Intellectual Property Partner Pamela M. Deese recently spoke with the BBB National Programs’ podcast about the rules for influencers when they are promoting a product or service on social media.

While endorsements from models and celebrities have always been standard in advertising, influencers have been seemingly puzzled by where they fit into the rules. In fact, the same rules apply.

Listen To The Podcast Here. 

As social media influencing is a relatively new form of advertisement, many influencers appear to be unaware of how Federal Trade Commission regulations concerning advertising apply to the content they post. “The law itself on advertising hasn’t changed,” says Pam, “you have the responsibility as an influencer to know the law.”

The FTC expects social media influencers to adhere to their regulations, some of which include:

  • Disclosing “material connections” such as financial, employment, personal or family relationships with a brand
  • Placing disclosures within the ad itself where it is “clear and conspicuous” or readily visible by consumers
  • Providing truthful and accurate information regarding their experiences with a particular brand or product.

Though advertising regulations have not changed with the advent of social media advertising, the FTC has approached social media influencers with education first, rather than with cease and desist letters, as demonstrated in their Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers brochure. Despite these efforts, influencers and brands must also ensure that they are abiding by FTC regulations.

As for the future of the social media influencer industry, Pam anticipates the narrowing of the social media influencer sphere and a rise in consumers who are more skeptical and vocal about influencer advertisements.


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