Last week I gave you an overview of what Affiliate Marketing is, when it applies and what the FTC mandates - if you missed that post, head back and take a read by clicking here.
Today we're going to talk about some dos and don'ts. Not only is this stuff legal requirements, but if you are not properly conveying this information to your site visitors/followers/clients they can lose a lot of faith in you as a person and as a brand.
Sponsored posts, ads and everything around this topic tends to get a bad wrap but think about it like this...If you truly love the product or company and you talk about them anyway, you're giving them free advertising and more sales. Why not partner with them and be rewarded for your hard work? Some go way over the top and shove it down your throat or only do sponsored posts, but doing it in a real, authentic, tactful way can be a great thing.
Aside from the FTC guidelines, you will obviously have guidelines with the person or company you are now affiliated with - you have a lot to keep up with, research and maintain. Doing it right from the beginning should help you avoid any issues or mistakes. So, let's take a look at our "dos":
Understand what you are signing up for. The requirements that the person or brand has from a legal standpoint up to the actual recommendations of the product or service. Don't just sign and assume you are all good because you have your affiliate disclosure up that the FTC requires, or worse assume that you only need to say the post is sponsored or an ad and not have a disclosure up. Some programs, like Amazon Affiliates, have it written into their program(s) policies that you have to have an Affiliate disclosure. If you don't, they will ban you from the program.
When talking about a product or service on social media, aside from saying the post is sponsored or an ad, include information on where your Affiliate disclosure can be found. It can simply be something such as "For further information on the Affiliate Marketing I do (or your brand/company name) please see the disclosure on our website at XYZ". Of course, some sites like IG and Twitter you really can't do that, but anywhere or anytime you have the room to do so, do it.
Don't forget to link to your disclosure in your newsletter or any other similar medium that you connect to your followers via email and mention a product or a service. Again, make it clear what you are saying is sponsored, or an ad, how you are being compensated, etc and have a link in the footer to the actual disclosure. This is one of the top places that is missed.
Keep your disclosure up-to-date. I recommend reviewing ALL of your legal documents at minimum annually, or of course, anytime something changes in your business.
Don't be sketchy. Don't be misleading, beat around the bush, try to hide your disclosure, put verbiage that only Albert Einstein could understand, etc.
Don't make your disclosure visibly hard to read. Meaning do not use fonts that are hard to read (you can see examples here), hard to read colors, teeny-tiny font sizes, crazy designs - even if they are chic designs if it's hard to read, scratch it. Ask someone else to read your disclosure. We may think it's easy on the eyes, but it might not be for others - AND this goes hand-in-hand with ADA and WCAG guidelines and the requirement that people can read and clearly see information on your site. So with this piece alone, you could be hit with three different laws and fines if you are not doing this correctly.
Think of the mobile version of your site. Can the links be found easily, is it formatted correctly, make sure it's not covered by anything, even partially - for example, a "take me to the top" button or social media button.
All and all, just don't be an ass. There is nothing wrong being an affiliate. If you're doing it, own it.
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**Although I am a Licensed Business Coach and Compliance Auditor, this post is not legal advice and is educational and informational only. Reading this post and others does not constitute a client-consultant relationship. Should you want to work 1:1 on this Act or another topic, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.