The Federal Trade Commission recently passed new regulations requiring adequate disclosure on web marketing strategies and reviews. While it can seem like extra effort, this step is necessary to protect consumers throughout the internet world. If you’re endorsing or reviewing a product on your site, you are still responsible for creating and displaying a disclosure about the product or service, so it’s vital that you understand what your disclosures should display in your blog.
Disclosures are designed to prevent misleading consumers about a product or service being advertised, even if it’s just in a discussion within a blog. These disclosures must be both clear and visibly blatant on the same page of a company blog, to avoid any discrepancy or confusion by the reader. This means you can’t always use hyperlinks that redirect readers to another page.
Stay within the guidelines
To accomplish this, there are a few steps you should take to stay within the regulations and ensure your blog remains customer and federally friendly.
- First of all, you need to place disclosures close to or at least on the same page that the triggering claims have been made.
- Use text or other visual cues that inform the reader that they need to scroll down or up on a web page in order to view the disclosures.
- When text and other data is lengthy and may include videos and pictures, a secondary disclosure is recommended at the end of the blog to prevent any confusion and to stay within regulatory guidelines.
- In this case, where you have previously made a disclosure within the same document, you can create a hyperlink to a separate disclosure in order to conserve space.
- Other items within your blog cannot distract attention from the disclosure. This means that you can’t utilize advertisements or popups that would cover a disclosure.
- In order to make the disclosure as recognizable as possible, include it within a banner or use contrasting colors to emphasize its importance.
- If you’re taking advantage of video or audio blogs such as YouTube or even Facebook video uploads, your disclosure should also be in video or audio format. But, it must also remain clear and concise so avoid placing it only at the end of your video or audio blog. Instead, incorporate it into your video in combination with what you’re saying or advertising.
- Always use clear language and grammar when disclosing.
While these methods may seem to apply to those advertising products or services through their blogs, it covers every aspect of advertising- from businesses with a company blog to non-profit organizations that are just promoting their efforts.
Keep in mind that blogging and even social media incorporates advertising at some point during the blogging. You may be advertising your own product or another company’s, but it is vital that you take the time to consider what your blog is stating and if you need to reference a disclosure to protect your business or non-profit organization.
Disclosing references as well
Blogs are a great source for advertising in an indirect way. Many blogs cover information related to their company, but don’t necessarily endorse a product or service. While in this situation it may be unnecessary to create a disclosure since you aren’t endorsing a product, you should still post a disclosure that information in your blog is opinion related so as to cover all bases. And if you do post facts, be sure to credit them to a source along with a disclosure. This is something that has been widely overlooked in the social media world as Facebook users (mostly private individuals) post quotes, pictures, or even videos without offering a reference.
Utilizing a reference can be especially helpful in controlling disclosure issues. If you utilize previously posted or even copyrighted data (any internet source complies with copyright regulations) you definitely need to post a reference for any information gathered. This could even apply to consumer referrals that you post or discuss within your blog. Just be sure to protect yourself by giving credit where credit is due.
According to these new regulations, businesses and non-profit organizations need to start creating and applying disclosures to every aspect of their online marketing strategies. Blogs are amongst the most overlooked applications of these regulations, but it’s important to every consumer that they be protected from misleading information. Do your part and tell your readers and customers exactly what they’re getting when they read your blog.