So the Federal Trade Commission has announced the new rules for disclosing the sponsor-endorser relationships. This includes all affiliates that tweet, post, or publish any other online content that has affiliate links embedded in it (or content on which they earn money).
But how do you squeeze an appropriate disclosure into the 140 characters of a tweet? I’ve seen some affiliates using an #AffiliateLink hashtag, but I am not positive it provides a clear enough disclosure (especially in light of how differently “affiliate” may be defined by different readers, friends and followers).
Some of the following hashtags may work:
- #YouPurchaseIGetACut 🙂
Of course, it would help if Twitter came up with some sort of a universal hashtag that could be used to mark affiliate tweets (e.g.: #TIMS for #ThisIsMySponsor).
Additionally, PCWorld.com has described another possible scenario involving Twitter:
Say, for example, you work for Microsoft and become a fan of the company on Facebook or tweet about how much you love Windows 7. Now, what if you have not made it clear on your Facebook and Twitter profiles that you work for Microsoft? Some of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers might see your posts, and — knowing that you’re an expert in technology, but not necessarily that you work for Microsoft — take your Windows 7 endorsement at face value. You still might love Windows 7, but you haven’t made it clear that you’re receiving financial compensation as a Microsoft employee. Under the new FTC guidelines, you may have just crossed the line. True, it’s unlikely the FTC will be interested in you, but if you have a large amount of Twitter followers or Facebook friends, it might be a good idea to disclose your corporate affiliations.
So here’s another set of hashtags to choose from:
Will the above ones be enough to safeguard you from the legal action that FTC may take against you for improper disclosure of the relationship with the advertiser? I cannot guarantee this. So do not take any of the above as a legal advice, but talk to your lawyer. Most online marketers agree that the key here is in being sincere, straightforward, and transparent. Honesty always produces trust.