Gay Jones & Kuhn Small Business Series
SMALL BUSINESS INSIGHTS: THE LAW RELATED TO INFLUENCING
November 26, 2019
In the age of growing social media marketing, it is essential that small businesses know the law that applies to your small business and internet marketing. Whether you are a small business with an online presence using social media to generate business or you are an influencer helping to promote others’ businesses, you need to know the law.
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out nearly 100 letters to people who were “influencing” on social media. The FTC Press Release stated letters were sent to persons with large audiences on Instagram warning of the implications of federal laws related to promoting other companies’ products or services. The letters warned that “influencers should clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.”
A sample of one of these letters from the FTC read, “One of your other Instagram posts, attached to this letter, has recently come to our attention. You posted a picture of yourself wearing a leatherjacket and wrote “New leather (emoji).” In the picture, you tagged the jacket “#[company named removed]” The FTC staff believes that tagging a brand is an endorsement of the brand. Accordingly, if you have a material connection with the marketer of the tagged brand, then your post should disclose that connection. Your post does not disclose whether you have a material connection with the marketer.” Checkout https://disclosurepolicy.org/ftc-influencer-marketing-letters-influencers/ for more excerpts from FTC influence marketing action letters.
As you prepare for the holiday “influencing” rush, it would be wise to read over “The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking” section available on the FTC’s website at https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking.
Neither ignorance of a law nor the fact that “everyone else does it” is a defense. Per the FTC, connections must be disclosed, and “material connections could consist of a business or family relationship, or your receipt of payment, free products or services, or other incentives to promote a brand.” Be sure you are looking at resources on these issues that are accurate and from reputable sources. If you have any questions about the business of influencing or any other small business needs, you should always reach out to a lawyer for legal advice.
Gay Jones & Kuhn offers a broad spectrum of legal services for clients in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama, including general defense, strategic counsel services, general counsel and small business services, special education counsel, and personal legal counsel and estate planning services. For more information about GJ&K, visit www.gayjoneslaw.com.