Blogger Confession: Two months ago I was following along with the tweets from Blissdom and saw that the FTC had put out new guidelines specifically for bloggers. I admit that I didn’t jump right then to look them up because I thought “I don’t really do much that will be impacted by those”. I was WRONG!
NOTE: I am not a lawyer nor is any of this supposed to be considered fact! This is what I have gathered from my research but you should read the links and the FTC guidelines to determine what you feel is compliant.
Here is the link to the FTC Guidelines: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/03/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
Here are a few other links that put it a little simpler:
- Wall Street Journal
- Charlene Chronicles (love her series on it)
- Pink Heels Pink Truck (I met her at Blogging BootCamp Dallas)
- Tricia.Me (Half Way down the page she talks about how this refers to us)
- BlogHer Article
- How to Make Disclosure Buttons for WordPress from Fashion and Beauty Tech
- Fashion and Beauty Tech FTC Guidance
Here is what I think it means for me as a Book Blogger:
- Review Books: They are considered compensated reviews. You received an item for a posted review and you must note that in your tweets (if expressing positive feelings in the tweet–more below), FB Postings (if expressing positive feeling in the FB Post–more below), and at the beginning and end of your blog post.
Here is an example of what I think a proper post would look like (NOTE:
I am putting Sponsored in my Title because I use a tool called Tweet Old Posts and I haven’t figured out a way to make certain ones tweet with that information in there automatically).
UPDATE: You have to place your source at the top before any outward bound links and near the review (aka either before or directly after it). For me personally, I have goodreads links, author links, links to other pages on my blog, and Library Thing links right at the top and before the review so mine need to be at the very top. I do know there is code that you can use so that it doesn’t mess up your SEO but I honestly haven’t had a chance to try it/test it (Look at example 21 in the FTC Guidelines for more examples)
(I know my graphic drawing skills are AWESOME–not)
Twitter Example: (You can no longer use shortened links that don’t display where the tweet is from)
“With respect to “space-constrained ads” (e.g., tweets), when a tweet about a reviewed freebie reflects the reviewer’s positive opinion, the new FTC guidance indicates that the reviewer should include the required disclosure in the text of the tweet. However, a disclosure in the text of the tweet is probably unnecessary if the positive nature of the review is not apparent on the face of the tweet. For example, where a tweet merely includes a link to a review without spoiling the nature of the review, any required disclosures could probably be presented on the review site instead.”
— Felicia S. (@thegeekyblogger) May 10, 2013
Notice that I did NOT include any of my thoughts on the book! That is evidently the “trick” to staying in compliance which for me is great because that is always what I tweeted out. I asked a friend about this (she is a lawyer BUT would not say on record) and she said that they will be watching for things like: Audiobook Review: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee (LOVED THIS)(MUST BUY)(ROCKED) . Basically any positive feelings tied with a review book that are posted in the tweet must come with Sponsored, AD, Paid attached. NOTE: ARC probably won’t work (she wasn’t sure since it would have to be a term that the general public knows/familiar with and not just those in the know with the book industry. Since I didn’t know what an ARC was till my 2nd year book blogging, I am going to say that it probably is not a common enough term for the general public). If you stick to tweeting just the book title and author name then you should be good to go without putting Sponsored, AD, Paid. I asked about others tweeting your tweets and it basically boils down to if the Publisher or Author or Anyone who is tied to the ARC tweets about it, they must include the words Sponsored, Paid, Ad (that is on them though and you would not be held responsible). If another blogger tweets it, friends tweet it, etc and add their opinion to it then that shouldn’t require any extra wordage. I will probably stick to just tweeting out other people’s reviews without any added sentiment though. I am cautious like that!
Here is just my thoughts: I don’t think they are coming after bloggers per se (unless you have A LOT of influence) but they are trying to reign in the social media product endorsements. Evidently there are tons on twitter, fb, etc by high profile people. I really think the first crackdown will be against celebrities and such. I think they are silly rules but since I was already mostly in compliance and adding the extra layer at the top is no biggie to me, I will do my best. I am making y’all aware so you can give your best effort too.
ON BOOKS THAT YOU BUY/BORROW FROM THE LIBRARY OR FRIEND: Nothing is required and you can say whatever you want in the tweet. That is simply a product review that is not governed by these guidelines. Evidently you are still free to love, hate, and wax philosophically over the stuff you spend your hard earned money on 🙂
- All of these new rules also apply to GiveAways! In fact, I would say it is more important to put it in your giveaways. Put it in your Rafflecopter form, put it in your tweets, etc. Make sure to note the source of your giveaway in the rafflecopter and blog post. Also, I have heard, though haven’t researched it yet, that the rules changed on mandatory entries and weighted entries. These are not things I have confirmed but until I do I won’t be running giveaways except following these rules:
UPDATE: Read this awesome post (with links) about GiveAways– Busy Being Jennifer
This article was so good that I don’t think I can expand on it!
This is all a ton to take in but I wanted y’all aware too! This is the business side of blogging y’all and it does come with some rules. While these are not laws, the FTC can sue you for not following guidelines. I prefer a safe to sorry approach so I will be updating the appropriate posts with the right ways before turning back on Tweet Old Posts. I normally do fun posts on Fridays but since I was researching this last night I thought I would share my findings.
Y’all have a fantastic weekend! I know mine will be spent doing a mini-bloggiesta *SIGH*