Everything You Need to Know About Branded Content Disclosures

Branded content partnerships on instagram - tag business partner button

You might be a creator who works with brands, or a social media marketer dabbling in influencer marketing. Or, maybe you’re just curious about how influencer marketing on Instagram works!

Any way you slice it, branded content disclosures are everything.

Knowing how you should be disclosing your brand partnerships (or how your collaborators should!) keeps your marketing transparent.

And… it’ll keep you out of hot water with the FTC!

Here’s a quick guide to branded content disclosures, including what they are, how they work, and how they should appear on different types of content.

What is a Disclosure Statement?

A disclosure statement is any text, audio or visual you include in your content to highlight your relationship with a brand or business partner.

In other words, it helps you note up-front whether you’ve been motivated by a brand to endorse their products/services.

Important note – this doesn’t have to be financial motivation!

Instagram has a built-in disclosure statement that appears right below the creators username- check it out!

Image via Instagram

Why Are Disclosure Statements Important?

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) makes it mandatory for social media content creators to disclose their relationship with a brand.

Why does the FTC care so much? Well, a clear disclosure statement helps maintain transparency and empowers your followers (especially where buying decisions are concerned.)

It’s important for safeguarding the consumers’ interests and preventing deceptive advertising!

It also helps followers understand whether you’re recommending a product just because you like it, or have been sponsored by a brand to endorse it. 

Following disclosure guidelines will keep you in the good books of the FTC and help you avoid any trouble.

After all, violating FTC guidelines can lead to lawsuits and fines. Not to mention, your public persona and reputation might take a hit. And we don’t want that!

So, now for the important stuff: when do you need to include a disclosure?

You Need a Disclosure Statement If…

According to FTC guidelines, your content must include a disclosure if you share a financial, personal, family, or employment relationship with a brand.

In other words, you need to disclose your relationship with a brand when:

  • A brand pays you to endorse their product/service.
  • A brand sends free products or gifts to you and you recommend one of these products in your posts.
  • A brand offers discounts or other perks to you in exchange for an endorsement.
  • You tag a brand with whom you’ve had a relationship in the past.
  • Your audience or target demographic includes consumers in the U.S. (even if you’re based out of another country). 

You Don’t Need a Disclosure Statement If…

It’s always wiser to err on the side of caution and include appropriate disclosures. However, you won’t need a disclosure statement if:

  • You enjoy using a product you’ve purchased and recommend it to your followers.
  • You use free product samples obtained from a local store and feature them in your posts.

How to Add a Disclosure to Your Post

First things first – make sure you carefully read Facebook’s branded content policies before posting sponsored content on Facebook and Instagram.

Then, familiarize yourself with the latest FTC guidelines on branded content! You’ll find the PDF below :

Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers (FTC)

FTC Guidelines Made Simple

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Make it evident – Add the disclosure statement towards the beginning of your posts so that your followers don’t miss it. Avoid hiding it under the “more” section or amidst a bunch of hashtags.
  • Keep it simple – Use simple and easily understandable words to convey the message. Include words, such as “ad”, “sponsored”, “advertisement” to highlight the brand partnership.
  • Don’t confuse your audience – Avoid using vague abbreviations, such as “spon”, “collab”, etc., that could mislead your followers.
  • Use consistent language – Make sure the disclosure is in the same language as the rest of your post.
  • Leverage hashtags – Although the FTC hasn’t made it mandatory to include any hashtags, it’s recommended that you use #ad or #sponsored for more transparency.
  • Be authentic – Never lie in your endorsements. Even if a brand has sponsored your content, share your honest and unbiased experience of using their products/services. Also, don’t recommend products without trying them first-hand.

Adding a Disclosure to an Instagram or Facebook Post

Even if you’ve included a branded content tag, you should highlight the partnership in the caption of your post as well. 

Remember, do it towards the beginning of your caption to remain FTC-compliant!

Adding a Disclosure to a Picture or Image

When uploading pictures or images in Instagram/Facebook stories, superimpose words, such as “ad” or “sponsored”, or similar hashtags on the image.

Adding a Disclosure to a Video

When it comes to branded video content, you should include the disclosure statement audibly in the video clip and clearly in the description.

Adding a Disclosure to a Livestream

Since your followers can join a live stream at different points, you’ll want to repeat your disclosure regularly during your Livestream.

If you say it just once, new audiences tuning in may miss it and be unaware that your livestream or products in it are sponsored.

Types of Disclosure Statements on Social Media

Now that you know when to include a disclosure, you might be wondering how to go about doing it!. Here are a few useful ideas for social media posts:

On a regular post, include a hashtag, such as #ad or #sponsored, in the caption. Note that just a hashtag itself probably won’t pass muster with the FTC.

To be safe, mention that the item was a gift in the caption, and/or use the partnership tool in Instagram!

Image via Instagram

You can also thank the brand for sending you gifts or free products, or recognize up front in some way that the product or service was gifted, like Gina did!

        Image via Instagram

Gina also used an asterisk and “PR Product” in another caption to note which of the items in her outfit were gifted.

        Image via Instagram

While this tag is at the bottom of the caption, it’s on it’s own line and not hidden in hashtags or mentions. In other words, it’s pretty clearly visible to the reader!

As we mentioned before, you can also use branded content tools on Facebook and Instagram to highlight your relationship with a brand.

Image via Instagram

And if you’ve created a larger piece of content containing the item, you can add a disclaimer in your blog posts (mentioning that the content is sponsored) before sharing photos on social media.

    Image via OneGoogThing

Are Branded Content Tools on Social Media Enough?

Both Facebook and Instagram offer useful tools to let you include branded content tags in your posts and stories.

It typically adds the following header to your content: “Paid Partnership with…”

Image via Instagram

You can add branded content tags in your posts or Stories by selecting “Advanced Settings” (on Instagram) or “Tag Partner” (on Facebook).

Make sure you do this before uploading your content!

However, while it’s an effective way of maintaining transparency, these tools aren’t enough to comply with the FTC guidelines by themselves.

That’s why you must include a transparent, authentic, and easy-to-understand disclosure statement in your content.

Conclusion: What Happens If You Don’t Include a Disclosure?

Disclosure statements are essential for content creators as well as advertisers.

Failing to include disclosure statements can result in FTC warnings and even lawsuits!

Don’t believe us? In 2019, the FTC sent warnings to 21 influencers, including Linsay Lohan and Naomi Campbell, for violating the disclosure statement guidelines.

So, suffice to say, they take it pretty seriously.

But, for good reason! Adding clear disclosures help influencers maintain transparency regarding brand partnerships, which creates trust with their audiences.

And they help brands advertise the right way, and avoid legal trouble with the FTC.

Our recommendation? Don’t chance it; the possible risks outweigh the rewards of not disclosing your partnership agreements. Stay transparent!

Pin Me For Reference :

Branded content disclosures are a must if you’re doing influencer marketing. Here’s everything you need to know about collaborating with influencers.

11 Tips to Boost Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Having a well-planned and researched Instagram marketing strategy can give your brand a serious boost. You may not have one in place just yet, but it’s never too late to get started. If you don’t know what to include in yours, use these tips to create a marketing plan that will put you on top.

1. Create Shoppable Instagram Posts

(Source: https://www.instagram.com/shopbando/)

If you sell products online, take advantage of the tools Instagram has available for you. Tagging products on Instagram makes it much easier for potential customers to get the information they need in seconds. They no longer have to go to your website and look for the item they’re interested in just to see the price. Instead, a tagged post will show them that information and link them to the product if they’re ready to purchase.

If you’re not already using shoppable pins as part of your Instagram marketing strategy, you could be missing out on tons of potential sales. Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to be sure you’re using the best quality images to drive attention to your products. To get great images of these and attract the right attention to your shoppable posts, consider using mockups.

If you sell mugs, for example, using a coffee mug template means you can save time and money by forgoing a photoshoot altogether. Simply upload your design on to the mockup, download it, and it’s ready to post.

2. Use Stories to Capture Your Audience

Whether you run a personal brand or a small business, Instagram Stories for business are definitely worth checking out. It’s no secret that feed posts are on the decline thanks to the popularity of Stories. Influencers and big brands alike have resorted to posting less often on their feed and instead are spending more time posting to their Stories.

Since Stories are easy to post and allow you to get creative with your content, they’re definitely something you should include in your Instagram marketing strategy. On top of this, they also have great reach, which can help you attract and retain more followers.

Instagram Stories can be an image or a video, and both are easy to create. If you want to create video content but are scared you don’t have the skills to pull it off, you can use a quick video maker. Since these already have the right dimensions, you have one less thing to worry about when designing your content.

Instagram also has plenty of add-ons to make your Stories even more interesting. Feel free to play around with their text options, gifs, music, and stickers to make your posts more fun and aesthetically pleasing.

3. Use All the Space You Have

Instagram gives you tons of different spaces in which to post content. Your best bet is to make the most of each space. It’s true that Instagram Stories get lots of attention but the regular feed is still important! Be sure to post at least a couple times a week while creating content for your Stories.  On top of this, you can also create longer-form videos for your IGTV. Instagram Live is another option you can use to reach your followers. This is great for events, behind the scenes footage, and Q&A type features. 

Don’t forget about the power of ads as well. Using your Instagram business account, you can create ads for a couple of different spaces, so don’t limit yourself to basic posts.

As you get to work on your different posts, keep in mind that each space serves a different purpose. This means you should create different types of content for each one that makes sense for that space. For example, shorter videos are great for Stories while longer ones make more sense for IGTV.

Another thing to keep in mind is the size limitation each space has and the orientation of the video or image you want to post. Posting a horizontal image on Stories, for example, likely won’t have the visual impact you’re after.

4. Get Viewers to Interact With You by Adding Stories to Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Getting your followers to interact with you on your feed posts may not be as easy as it seems. However, with the Stories option, this is way easier to achieve.

Stories offer tons of features that can help make posts more interactive, which makes it easier to get a response from followers. You can run a poll, ask your followers a question, post a quiz, include an emoji slider, and allow replies. All of this makes it easy for your followers to interact with you without too much commitment. If you do get replies from your followers, don’t just leave them hanging. Reply back to foster even more interaction.

5. Optimize Your Profile and Content

We all know that hashtags can help your posts get discovered more easily, but are you using the right ones? For the best results, use a combination of trendy hashtags as well as some with fewer posts. Since trendy hashtags may be full of tons and tons of posts, the smaller ones can ensure your content doesn’t get lost in the masses. Don’t forget to also add hashtags to your bio and your Stories!

Another thing to keep in mind is that keywords can also make a difference when used in your profile and in your posts. With the changes being made to the Explore page, it’s very likely that these will come into play. In the past, this may have looked like a jumble of posts, but there is now more organization to it. With the introduction of the categories on the top of the Explore page, optimizing your content is more important than ever.

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6. Use Text-Based Images

(Source: https://www.instagram.com/jackieriveraaa/)

Have you noticed brands posting images of tweets in their Stories and in their feed? These types of posts and those that feature memes are super popular. No matter who you are or what your brand is, there are bound to be some you can use to get more attention for your profile.

If you also have a Twitter account, you can use your mentions on Twitter to find the perfect content for your feed. A great example of this is Glossier’s roundup of Tweets that they post to their Instagram Stories.

Another way to tackle this is by using text-based images that are designed for your brand. Think more artsy designs and graphic, typography-based designs. These will often include a message that aligns with your brand and that reflects it through your use of color and imagery.

7. Design a Branded Feed

When it comes to Instagram, it’s important that you find your aesthetic and stick with it. By doing this, you can let viewers know it’s you at a glance. They shouldn’t have to look at the account name to know the post belongs to you.

To achieve this, you can stick to a color palette or a couple of different styles when it comes to the type of images and videos you post. Take your time to find your aesthetic so that it’s something that represents your brand perfectly.

For a branded look, try to stick to the color palette used in your logo. This is a better option than putting your logo on your images because you want them to look natural and not salesy. If you don’t have a logo yet, use an online logo maker to design a professional one that will take your brand to the next level.

8. Personalize Your Posts

We just mentioned that branded posts are the way to go. Beyond your color palette, you can also get creative with the design of your posts by adding some additional elements to them.

An easy way to create a unique look and an aesthetic that is truly your own is by creating a design that represents your brand. A lot of brands are achieving this through doodles they add over their images, personalized filters, or other artsy flairs that separates their posts from the norm.

9. Post User-Generated Content

User-generated content is always a great idea, no matter what social media platform you’re working on. If you’re not familiar with user-generated content, this basically refers to images, messages, art, and any other content that your users send to you or that they tag with your brand’s hashtags.

If someone has mentioned your brand in a funny tweet, if they’ve posted an image wearing your products, or if they’ve created a video reviewing your items, sharing this with your followers can be powerful. Of course, you first want to get permission to share this content. Your followers will appreciate it because they know you’re listening and are interested in interacting with them.

If you don’t have any of this, you can ask your customers to share images of themselves with your products using a certain hashtag or even run a contest on your profile to encourage them to share user-generated content.

10. Get Into the Augmented Reality Game

(Source: https://www.instagram.com/sanrio/)

One of the biggest Instagram trends you shouldn’t ignore right now is AR. Augmented reality may sound quite serious, but it can offer Instagram users a fun way to interact with your brand even if they’re not a customer or a follower yet.

Examples of AR include those fun filters you’ve probably seen all over Instagram for a while now. If you’re a makeup brand, you can create a filter that allows people to see what they would look like with the different lipstick colors you offer. If you sell items like handbags, you can also create a filter that allows people to see what one of your purses would look like with their outfit before they commit to purchasing it.

11. Don’t Ignore TikTok (Develop it Alongside Your Instagram Marketing Strategy)

TikTok is known for being the social network that is basically an extension of Instagram. Instead of creating a curated feed that looks effortless and at the same time impressive, TikTok is all about production and doing the most.

Young people love it but TikTok isn’t just a trend for them. There are plenty of brands and bloggers who are jumping on the bandwagon and having fun with this platform. It’s also no longer just for individuals, so you can definitely use TikTok to take your brand further by including it in your marketing plan.

If you’re thinking TikTok has nothing to do with Instagram, that’s not quite true. TikTok style videos are hugely popular, so they’re definitely influencing the content being posted on Instagram. Don’t shy away from these trends. You can expect Instagram to include more features inspired by this platform sooner rather than later.

Master Instagram in No Time

With these tips, you’ll be more than ready to create your Instagram marketing strategy. Which tips are you most excited to try out? Share your thoughts and other tips that have worked for you with us in the comments!

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About the Author:

Roberta Camarena is a marketing professional with expertise in organic content creation. She is currently a content marketer at Placeit and has several years of experience in social media marketing and content writing. Her background in education and communications have led her to many diverse writing positions. On the weekends, you can find her at a neighborhood cafe getting some writing done and getting distracted by dogs.

Should I Auto Post to Instagram?

Posting on social media is like a Goldie Locks and three bears situation.

Post too often on some platforms and you risk setting off spam filters or annoying your followers.

Post too infrequently and you risk losing engagement and getting forgotten.

The trick is to find that sweet spot (and only share high-quality content, of course.)

We get it. Life gets in the way and you can’t spend all day on Instagram.

Unfortunately, you can’t schedule and auto post to Instagram directly through the platform’s own website like you can with Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t fret. An Instagram auto post app like Tailwind is your best friend for this – but should you use it?

What are the pros and cons of auto posting?

Auto Post to Instagram: Cons

Before we start explaining how to auto post to Instagram, let’s look at some things you should watch out for.

Possible Violation of Instagram’s Terms of Service

Until 2018, the only Instagram schedulers which allowed auto posting were not approved Instagram partner tools. Anyone using one of these was violating Instagram’s terms of service and were at risk for having their accounts deleted. Eeek!

Hasta la vista, baby!

That’s not the case anymore. Instagram has updated its API and made it possible to auto post with partner apps like Tailwind.

Choosing a partner app is not only vital to keep you from being in the doghouse with Instagram because not every app has your or your follower’s best interests at heart. Some are merely out to steal data or store information longer than they should. Yikes.

Always use reputable, official partner tools like Tailwind to schedule your Instagram posts. Get a [sc name=”free trial of Tailwind for Instagram”]

You May Forget to Stay Engaged

Social media is all about, well, being social!

Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, you can’t get away with broadcasting (aka simply posting content and not interacting with your audience/accounts you follow).

Once you figure out how to auto post on Instagram, it’s easy to slip into broadcaster mode.

Comments on your posts sit unloved and dormant. You stop following new accounts.

Posting is only half of the work. Remember to keep an eye out for push notifications so you can interact with your followers and stay engaged.

Auto Post to Instagram: Pros

Okay, so why should you auto post to Instagram?

Freedom! Fit Instagram Posting into Your Schedule

As a blogger or marketer, you have a full schedule as it stands. Setting an alarm to post on Instagram isn’t ideal.

Using an Instagram auto post app lets you work on the platform when you have time.

Get your post writing, hashtags, and uploading out of the way so you can focus on other things. Like your business!

Plan Ahead with Your Instagram Posts

When you use a third-party app like Tailwind to schedule your Instagram posts, you can upload multiple images for multiple days in one batch – much faster, easier, and more convenient! AND, you don’t have to be available to complete the posting – it will happen without you!

As Jeff Bullas says:

“Just like any other social media platform, your Instagram audience wants consistency. Consistency in your posting schedule, and consistency in the quality of your content.”

You Can Auto Post on Instagram at the Perfect Time

When you create an account with Tailwind, we automatically scan your followers and figure out when they’re most active online.

From there, we’ll give you the ideal times to post for the highest engagement.

Your followers live in different time zones around the world. We do the hard work in the background so you can literally post in your sleep.

Having your image or video auto post means you won’t miss a notification and your ideal posting window.

How to Enable Auto Post on Tailwind

Banner Showing Set up Auto Posting to Instagram with Tailwind Now
  • Click on the “Set Up Auto Posting Now!” button.
  • Click on the blue “Connect Instagram via Facebook” to authenticate your Instagram business account. You may have completed this in the past, but the new interface requires a new authentication.
  • Briefly revel in the “Yay! Auto posting is now enabled!” message.

This whole process should take no more than five minutes.

How to Auto Post on Instagram

Unfortunately, Instagram’s native app doesn’t offer an auto post or scheduling feature. You’ll need to use a third-party service like Tailwind.

Create an account and log into Tailwind (it only takes a few minutes.) Get a [sc name=”free trial of Tailwind for Instagram”]

Head over to the post scheduler and you’ll see all the best times to post each day.

Click on “create a new post” and “upload images.” Upload an image and start typing your caption.

As you type, Tailwind suggests relevant hashtags for you to use. Not only that, but we rank the suggested hashtags based on engagement potential.

Check out these suggested hashtags:

When you’re done, click on “add to queue” and Tailwind will automatically select the ideal time for your post to publish. Don’t worry, you can pick custom times too if that’s more up your alley.

You can also move your hashtags into the first comment if you prefer.

Try the Tailwind Instagram Auto Post App for Free

With Tailwind, you can auto post to Instagram at the perfect time to engage your followers. When you decide to auto post, remember to:

Ready to see how Tailwind can make your life easier and boost your Instagram potential? Give our app a spin now with a free trial!

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