If you’ve done any reading on the state of influencer marketing and where the next year will take us, you know that understanding how to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines is paramount. It’s not hard to understand why. Influencer marketing has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and 2017 is poised to be the year this once fledgeling industry becomes mainstream. The more popular a medium becomes, the greater need for regulatory agencies to step in and ensure that the end consumer is protected. Enter the ever evolving guidelines from the FTC.

Many influencers and marketers are made nervous by some of the most recent updates to these guidelines, but you don’t have to be. The guidelines are actually quite simple; influencers are required to disclose their financial arrangement with brands* in a clear and conspicuous way**. The disclosure must be in the same medium as the advertisement*** and must be understandable by ordinary consumers as well as any “reasonable members” of a specific target audience (e.g. children or the elderly, or non-native English speakers)****.

* Financial arrangements no longer include cash compensation only. Receiving free product, a trip,experience or having some kind of ownership in the company all count as sponsorship within the eyes of the FTC. These must all be disclosed. A good rule of thumb is to assume something is sponsored and disclose that to your audience.

** Use #ad or #sponsored and do not hide the disclosure (especially on posts to Instagram and Twitter) amid other hashtags you may be using to promote the post.

*** If your tweet or share to Facebook is promoting a sponsored blog post that share is considered sponsored. If your Instagram post is sponsored, you must disclose it on the post. Disclose on the channel you are posting to, linking back to a disclosed blog post is no longer enough.

**** If the majority of your audience is not english speaking or are children, that needs to be taken into account when writing disclosures. Your audience must be able to understand that the post they are looking at it sponsored.

Here are a couple of my favorite resources so you can understand all the In’s and Out’s of the Guidelines yourself:

The FTC Guidelines should be nothing to worry about as long as you are educated and disclose posts for which you have been paid or received product. We’ve seen that approximately 50% of brands aren’t explicitly telling influencers to disclose their posts. As an influencer, choosing not to disclose a sponsored post may land you in a bit of hot water. When in doubt, hashtag it out.