When it comes to the partnerships that you create with brands, you must disclose the relationship. If you are getting paid to talk about a company, you need to take the time to let your readers and potential followers know up front. Today I am going to be chatting about why disclosing your partnerships is the bee's knees so you can begin to create legal partnerships.
This month on the blog we are chatting about all things sponsored content. Check out the other posts in this series:
Why Disclosing Your Partnerships Is The Bees Knees (this post)
1. Disclosing Is The Law
The first thing you need to know about disclosing is it is the law. As a person who is making money from a partnership, you must disclose that information or you and the company you worked with could face real problems.
Here is the FTC's stance on this issue taken from this press release:
The FTC is very clear about this issue, disclosure is a must.
This summer there was a huge issue with this and it caused a lot of turmoil for people who purchased tickets. If you remember a few months ago there was a story about the Fyre Festival. This festival was seen as a festival for the rich and famous and it was backed by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule. On top of that, many social media influencers like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid discussed this festival on their social media channels.
Many of the influencers did not disclose their partnership with the brand, and many of them got tied into a class action lawsuit because they did not disclose their partnership with Fyre Festival.
While the FTC doesn't usually go after influencers as much as they do companies, it wouldn't be wise to try to skate past the law. Instead, follow the law so that you don't have to worry about your campaign being the next Fyre Festival.
2. Disclosing Helps You Build Relationships With Your Audience
Selling out your audience and their trust isn't worth it and it's definitely not worth a couple hundred, a couple thousand, or any amount of money. With your audience on your side you can make way more money than one single sponsored post can give you. Also, you have spent so much time building this relationship, why would you want to tear it down?
In the case of the social media influencers that we just talked about in the Fyre Festival case, you could see how someone would trust those celebrities less after that incident. Even if you didn't purchase a Fyre Festival ticket, you would be pretty bummed out if you realized that you were being sold to without disclosure.
Even if you don't upset your entire audience, there is a great chance that you will upset a good fraction of your audience when you don't disclose.
A disclosure is such a simple thing to do, so why wouldn't you do it?
3. Disclosing Makes You Feel better By Being Upfront
Last, but not least, you make yourself feel better when you disclose.
It just feels good to be open and upfront with your audience. Knowing that you are building that trust and not tearing it down will help you sleep easier at night.
Sometimes that's all you need!
How To Disclose Your Partnerships
There is a bit of confusion when it comes to disclosure. How do you even disclose your brand partnerships?
Well it depends on the place you are disclosing. Here are some general rules of thumb though:
- Disclose BEFORE the links and all that good stuff. Many bloggers try to disclose after and while this isn't the worst thing you can do, the optics look bad. So be amazing and disclose before.
- Make The Disclosure Obvious: I see A LOT of bloggers create tiny disclosures. ,I shouldn't need a magnifying glass to read your disclosure. Again, this is something that while it's not awful, just looks bad.
- Disclose All The Way: Don't use ambiguous terms like #sp. The FTC doesn't like that word. Be as clear as possible and clearly label your work with the words AD or Sponsored by ___. You want your audience to know that you are working with this company. While many bloggers know what the word #sp means, many outside of the blog world will not know this, and to fake that you don't know that seems disingenuous.
Overall, you need to be all the way transparent with your audience.
What To Do If A Company Doesn't Want You To Disclose
To be honest, if a brand doesn't want you to disclose, stay far away from that brand.
Brands know just as much as bloggers that FTC regulations need to be followed. Especially in today's day and age where influencer marketing is always under fire. If we want to keep influencer marketing as we know it alive, we must disclose our partnerships with brands.
In fact, it is strange to me when companies don't want to disclose. At the end of the day, the FTC is much more likely to go after them as a company than me as a blogger (although that's starting to change.)
Do yourself and the industry a favor and work with company who encourage disclosure. You don't want to sell your audience out for a couple hundred bucks or anything in between.
The Importance Of No-Follow Links
Another thing that you need to be wary about besides just a disclosure at the top of your page is no-follow links. Google doesn't take kindly to people including links that aren't no-followed when they are getting paid for their work.
It's simple and easy to include no-follow links on your blog. On a Wordpress blog there are many plug-ins that help you easily create no-follow links, but no-follow links are as simple as adding some code to your page.
Grab this code to create a no-follow link with that opens in a new window.
<a rel="nofollow" href=LinkHere target="_blank">TextHere</a>
You can easily grab this code and input it anywhere on your website code is accepted. The link to the website goes where LInkHere is and the text you want to show up (as a normal link would have) goes where the words TextHere goes.
This simple line of code can really come in handy when you are creating sponsored content.
What About Affiliate Marketing?
To be honest, I didn't know this when I first started blogging, but you need to understand that if you have an affiliate marketing relationship, that needs to be disclosed as well. Your disclosure doesn't have to be crazy in-depth, but it needs to be there. Your affiliate links also need to be no-follow links.
Disclose your affiliate links at the top of your blog post (or before you share any of your links become affiliate links) so that your readers know when you are including them.
This can be as simple as sharing the phrase:
This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase using the affiliate links I get a small portion of the proceeds. This does not cost you anything extra, but it supports the blog.
Some people, just include the phrase:
This post contains affiliate links.
I tend to go a little bit longer than just letting people know the post contains affiliate links because many readers may not understand exactly what that means. Your goal here is to be transparent so that includes when you are talking about affiliate partners.
Disclosing is key when it comes to brand partnerships and making money as a blogger. You don't have to disclose how much you make, but it is important to disclose that you are making money from the partnerships that you have.