The FTC seems to be continuing its watchful eye on sponsored posts via social media as influencers and celebrities get paid to post about their favorite brands. So beware if you are one that is taking products or collaborating with a brand as an ambassador, or simply as a partner. As photographers, many of us bring on relationships with companies and camera brands without knowing the rules fully. Not disclosing these partnerships can result in fines from the FTC.
Marketing the last few years has advanced past television commercials and radio ads and been adapted to the hands of teens and 20 something's across the world. The way we do that is simple, social media. According to Captiv8 over $255 million is spent on influencer marketing every single month on Instagram alone. That is simply paid sponsorships, not including products given out for free in exchange for posts.
Over the last few years I have easily taken product from brands in exchange for a post, and it's usually with a brand I already had a project booked with, which made things very easy to get myself in the door for more work. I was able to offer a bit extra in photoshoots over the other photographer. All because I was willing to post about it on social media. The biggest takeaway and change is that the FTC is looking to tighten its grasp on product for posts vs only paid sponsorships like before. So beware as you might be working with a brand on a separate shoot, getting gear for free and posting about it on Instagram might bring a fine. Another big update that changed was the fact that using verbiage like #ad, #sp, #sponsored are not enough and the FTC is looking for a more clear description.
Here is an example on a post I recently did with Amazon in which I clearly told a story about my collaboration. This gives a bit more context into what I am doing without having to ad silly tags like #sp and gives more meat to my posts.
What do you guys think? Is the change going a bit too far? Will they even be able to traffic this type of thing with product based posts? Either way, I am very careful what I post on social as I have heard of fines ranging from $100-$250 from other photographers in the past that did not disclose the correct intentions of their collaboration.
To see the full list of changes and rules be sure to read them here.