In the blogging world, it has been considered good taste to dislose relationships you have with a brand or advertiser when you mention them in a post, whether you are reviewing their product, campaign, or just giving an old fashioned shout-out.
Now it's the law.
The FTC, in its updated Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, has made it clear that any blogger who makes an endorsement for a product must disclose the
material connections they share with the seller of the product or
service. If they don't? They could be slapped with fines of up to $11,000. Per post.
This is not just for bloggers who use services like Izea. The rule defines "material connection" as "cash or in-kind payment," so really any situation where something of value changes hands between advertiser and blogger would be considered payment.
It's a fine line, though. Are samples, giveaways —or even exclusive news, or fame— considered something of value? If so, General Mills and their blogging mommies, as well as Ford and their Fiesta bloggers better be careful to own up exactly what is changing hands, Mashable notes.
Most well-run social media programs do use appropriate
disclosure, Mashable concludes, but deception still exists, and "unscrupulous" marketers are still a dime a dozen. (Sorry, guys. No offense.) Enter the threat of money lost from heavy fines, however, and the game changes.