How To Disclose Sponsored Posts On Social Media

Brian Curee

If you are going to offer sponsored posts on your radio station's social media accounts, there are some things to be aware of. I believe Spiderman said, "With sponsored posts comes responsibility." 😆 Actually, it was the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has been cracking down on deceptive advertising and marketing tactics that have increased on Instagram and other platforms as influencers continue to emerge. Before we dive into sponsored posts on social media, our team at KBM wants to encourage radio stations NOT to use their newsfeeds as an infinite commercial. Yes, you can bring in some extra revenue with sponsored posts, but if it doesn't serve your followers well, don’t do it. We all know listeners wouldn’t tune in to listen every day if 95% of your station's air-time were commercials. The same goes for your social media feeds.

These tips on how to disclose sponsored posts on social media will help you show your followers that what you’re advertising is the real deal and may prevent your station from losing your audiences' trust online. 

Why Are The FTC Getting Involved?

Influencers and celebrities have been increasingly warned about failing to disclose sponsored posts, protecting people against fraud and deception. In 2019, the FTC sent over 20 letters to Instagram influencers, including fashion icon Naomi Campbell and actress/singer Lindsay Lohan, warning that posting sponsored posts on their accounts without clear disclosure was a significant rule breach. There’s even a document specifying the dos and don’ts for social media influencers called Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers to outline how to disclose sponsored posts efficiently. 

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It’s Your Responsibility to Disclose, Not Your Platform’s

Perhaps the biggest thing to focus on when thinking of how to disclose sponsored posts is that all sponsored partnerships must be disclosed by you. Your platforms won’t necessarily help with this. Facebook and Instagram have required branded content tools that use built-in brand disclosures. However, the FTC has made it clear that these platform disclosures don’t suffice or meet their requirements for disclosure. This means you have two sets of disclosure requirements you have to follow. A failure to comply will get you in some big trouble. 

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Where Should You Disclose?

Placement is everything when determining how to disclose sponsored posts. You should disclose your sponsored post within the first lines of your caption. Don’t make followers guess or speculate, make it clear that what they’re seeing is an advertisement for a real product or service. You can include the words ‘sponsored’ or ‘paid’ at the start of your caption, but refrain from using them as hashtags as those are common hashtags that will suppress the post from appearing in news feeds. If you’re teasing sponsored content from another platform, take the same approach. 

In Instagram or Snapchat stories, a prominent verbal disclosure or text is required in the post. For live streams, you have to disclose your relationship with the brand you’re working with as many times as possible, not just once or twice. If you’re using YouTube, the words ‘sponsored,’ ‘ads’ or ‘paid’ must be mentioned in it, with a verbal disclosure expressed within the first 30 seconds of the video. For blog posts, disclosures are expected to be made before any product or brand mentions. 

More Sponsored Disclosure Tips 

Make Your Language Clear 

You don’t have to be overly elaborate with your disclosure. The FTC will tell you that when figuring out how to disclose sponsored posts, a simple mention of the brand after saying thanks will suffice. Just make the brand stand out immediately, so you’re falling in line with their protocols. Furthermore, the same language should be used throughout the ad, meaning the ad and disclosure itself should have similar wording and/or the same tone. 

Be Honest 

Never, ever make false or misleading claims about a product. Yes, advertising involves a fair bit of exaggeration across the board. But making claims about the brand that neither you nor the sponsor can substantiate is a no-no. This goes double if you had a bad experience with a product you’re claiming is good (e.g., the effects of body cream or food). Don’t personalize it if you can’t relate to it.

Even If It’s a Gift, Disclose It

While gifting a product to influencers can build brand loyalty and make them want to endorse your product regularly, something being free doesn’t exempt you from disclosure. The FTC states that if a business offers a free product that will be promoted or discussed, it still qualifies as a sponsored partnership and must be disclosed accordingly.

Disclose Without Worry

So, the next time you’re wondering how to disclose sponsored posts, heed these requirements, and you will be on your way to creating a more reputable business. Find out how Killer Bee Marketing can help your radio station plan and execute sponsored posts on social media that don't feel like sponsored posts and serves your audience well.

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