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Brands and influencers are working more closely than ever before. Influencer marketing is a $5 billion industry, according to Insider Intelligence. While these relationships are mutually beneficial, some FTC guidelines for influencers apply to social endorsements.

The FTC works to limit deceptive advertising. As a result, the FTC requires influencers to publicly announce their relationship with a brand. Failure to do so is a big deal. Kim Kardashian, for example, was fined $1.26 million for not telling her Instagram followers that she was paid to represent a cryptocurrency, EMAX tokens. 

FTC influencer guidelines and disclosure rules can be a bit confusing. To help, here’s when, how, and where to disclose your relationships with brands, along with some additional tips and advice.

FTC guidelines for influencers

Under what circumstances does an influencer have to disclose his or her relationship with a brand? If you have any financial, personal, employment or family relationship with a brand, you have to tell followers about that connection, according to the FTC’s Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers.

If a brand does any of the following, you must disclose your relationship:

  • Gives you a free product.
  • Pays you to endorse a product.
  • Gives you anything of value or perks like an event invitation or early access to sales.

How and where to disclose

The FTC says you need to disclose your relationship in a way that’s “hard to miss.” Here are some dos and don’ts according to the FTC social media guidelines:


  • Use words that are easy to understand.
  • Use terms like ad, advertisement, brand sponsor, and brand ambassador.
  • Place the disclosure in a prominent place in the endorsement post.


  • Mix your disclosure into hashtags at the end of a post. 
  • Disclose the relationship on a website or a page that you link to.
  • Assume that your followers know your relationship with a brand, even if you’ve worked with them before.
  • Use vague terms like sp, spon, collab, or thanks.
  • Assume that a platform’s disclosure tool is good enough. Use it in addition to these disclosure rules.

FTC disclosure example

The FTC says you can say something like, “Thanks to ABC Company for the free product,” or place the words ad, advertisement, brand sponsor, or brand ambassador front and center.

Take a look at the example below. The first word of the post is #ad. It’s clear, prominent, and easy to understand that this influencer has a relationship with the brand.

Rules that apply to different types of posts

The tips above are helpful if an influencer creates a static post, like an image, for a brand, but there are other formats. Here’s a look at a few other FTC guidelines for social media that apply to quick-to-expire content, videos, and live streams.

Endorsements using quick-to-expire content like Snapchat or Instagram Stories:

  • You need to superimpose the disclosure on the image or video.

Endorsements via video:

  • You must mention your relationship in the video, not just in the video’s description.

Endorsements via live stream:

  • You need to mention your relationship periodically during the stream.

Additional FTC disclosure requirements 

When you promote a product, you must be truthful. More specifically, the FTC says you can’t:

  • Talk about a product, service, or experience you’ve never tried.
  • Say a product is terrific if you think it’s terrible (even if you’re getting paid).
  • Make claims that require proof, like saying a product has medical benefits that you can’t prove.

FAQs about FTC disclosures

Is disclosure necessary if an influencer buys a product and promotes it?

If you buy the product yourself and the brand is not paying you to endorse it or giving you any perks to mention it on social media, you don’t have to disclose anything.

If an influencer receives a free product in exchange for a review, should that be disclosed?

Yes. If an influencer receives a free product or anything of value, that relationship must be revealed to the audience. Even if an influencer only receives the product and no additional compensation, it must be disclosed. 

If an influencer reviews a product or service for a family member, are there different rules?

If you have a personal or family relationship with a company, you should disclose that relationship in your review.

What are the rules if a company sends an influencer a product for free but doesn’t formally ask him or her to endorse it?

Even if an influencer is under no obligation to review a product, if you do so, you should disclose that the product was sent for free. 

Is tagging a brand in a post considered a disclosure?

If you receive anything of value in exchange for your post, you must do more than tag the brand. You must clearly state that your review or message is an ad.

If you tag a brand simply because you love a product, and you weren’t asked to say so or given any perks to write something favorable about the brand, you don’t need any further disclosure.


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