Facebook has recently updated its branded content policies regarding content posted by influencers. With the death of organic reach came the birth of social media influencer marketing, the perfect workaround for reaching relevant users without having to run paid ads through FB’s back-end. There have been complications (to say the least) relating to content that influencers are paid to put out, stemming from the lack of clarity on the rules and regulations at play.
Until recently, there have not been a clear set of rules on how influencers are supposed to disclose that they are being paid to promote a product. Influencers are aware that some kind of acknowledgement is required, typically coming in the form of a hashtagged ‘#ad’, ‘#paid’, or ‘#partner’ call-out.
This issue has been brought to mainstream attention in light of the Fyre Festival disaster, which ultimately led to legal concerns for celebrities like Kendall Jenner who were ‘caught’ promoting the event via Instagram without proper disclosure.
In April, the FTC published this article, which provides 3 main guidelines for brand endorsements…
Keep Your Disclosures Unambiguous
Vague terms like “Thank you,” “#partner,” and “#sp” aren’t likely to explain to people the nature of the relationship between an influencer and the brand.
Make Your Disclosures Hard To Miss
In addition to what you say, consider where you say it and how it will look to consumers on the devices they’re using
Avoid #HardtoRead #BuriedDisclosures #InStringofHashtags #SkippedByReaders
When posts end with a jumble of hashtags, how likely is it that people really read them? That’s why a “disclosure” placed in a string of other hashtags isn’t likely to be effective.
To help alleviate the brand + brand ambassador disconnect, Facebook announced some updates in March that allow pages to easily co-brand content. Brands simply need to apply for access to their new ‘Branded Content Tools’ via this link which enables them to properly share co-branded / influencer posts.
Furthermore, in April, FB adjusted its branded content policies to enable verified pages to share branded content without restriction. The update primarily affects the regulations surrounding video content.
Previously, it was against policy for pages to include watermarks, logos, or graphic overlays to videos that are co-branded. Now, the regulation has been dropped, which means the post shown below from Lady Gaga that is partnered with Intel abides by the policy…
In addition to the endorsement rules laid out by the FTC, Facebook’s own Branded Content Policies can be found here. They outline the following 5 guidelines…
- Don’t include pre, mid, or post-roll ads in videos or audio content.
- Don’t include banner ads in videos or images.
- Don’t include title cards within a video’s first three seconds. Interstitial ad cards outside of a video’s first three seconds, such as mid cards or end cards, must not persist for longer than three consecutive seconds and must not be included within Facebook Stories.
- Don’t use the branded content tool to tag a Page without their prior consent.
- Comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including by ensuring that you provide all necessary disclosures to people using Facebook, such as any disclosures needed to indicate the commercial nature of content posted by you.
While Facebook has done a better job in recent months in providing tools brands can easily use to ensure they’re safe, the adoption of these tools will likely be slow and troublesome. The trouble primarily lies with the ‘micro-influencers’ of the world – users with ~25k followers or less who are more likely to get away with not disclosing a partnership.
Unfortunately, the policing of this issue will likely fall back on the FTC now that FB has done its due diligence by offering these new co-branding tools. The TL, DR is simple – make sure your influencers are follow the rules!