If you follow any influencers on social media, you’ve probably seen their #sponsored posts. They don’t just add this disclaimer for the clout, it’s the law. Both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the social media platforms influencers post on have rules for sponsored content, and YouTube is no different. If your brand is planning a YouTube sponsorship with an influencer, you could be caught in the crossfire if they don’t abide by the rules. Here are the legalities you need to know before teaming up with your favorite vlogger.
Rules for YouTube Sponsorships
Adhering to YouTube and the FTC’s policies can keep your brand from getting caught up in legal issues that could result in losing the trust of your customers and the influencer community. While the influencers you’re partnering with should also be familiar with these rules, it’s best for you to be in the know in case they aren’t.
Policies to consider include:
- Copyright Infringement: The last thing you want is your sponsored video to be flagged and removed for using music or video clips you don’t own. Even if you fight the infringement claim and win, valuable time is lost if the video has been off the platform and out of viewers’ reach.
- Partner Program Policies: YouTubers who monetize their content with ads have additional rules they need to stick to to maintain their partnership with YouTube.
- AdSense Program and Policies: This is in direct correlation with the partner program. If a YouTuber is given the ability to monetize their content, it is through AdSense. When they go against policies (uploading unoriginal content, ad violations or abuse of third-party services) their account can be locked - which would stop them from making money.
- YouTube Terms of Service: Every social media platform has a terms of service policy. Each vlogger has to agree to this to be allowed to upload their content to the platform. Make sure you look it over and that what you are asking your influencer to do is within the guidelines.
- Content commercial usage rights: If you still aren’t sure what kind of content can and can’t be monetized or used within sponsored videos, these rules will help you iron out the tricky details.
To be within FTC guidelines, YouTubers must disclose who they are working with when they post sponsored content. If YouTubers participate in a brand deal, product placement or receive a free gift, they must clearly disclose it to their viewers within the video’s description. Simply including #sp or #partner is not enough. It has to be clear what brand sponsored them and must include specific language to denote the nature of the sponsorship.
In addition to the written disclosure, YouTube includes a checkbox within the advanced settings in the platform’s backend that needs to be turned on if a video is sponsored. Facebook and Instagram have similar options, which reminds creators to disclose their brand deals during the upload process. Failure to clearly disclose sponsorships may result in videos being taken down, community strikes, account termination and a possible fine from the FTC. If you need more info on the legal side of influencer marketing, check out our legal guide!
These guidelines are enforced to protect consumers from being too easily swayed by what is essentially an advertisement. By stating that the video has sponsored content from a specific brand, consumers can adjust their perceptions accordingly. Most people still trust their favorite vloggers because they believe the vlogger will only accept sponsorships from brands they genuinely recommend.
Due to the diversity of YouTube’s viewers, there are rules for which content can include ads and what kinds of ads can be used. Many product categories are prohibited from being advertised on YouTube, including adult content, weapons, academic aids, automated ad clicking and more. As a brand, if your product falls into one of these categories, YouTube sponsorships won’t be the kind of influencer marketing for you.
As long as you play by the rules, YouTube sponsorships can be a great way to get your brand’s name out there. If you’re familiar with working with influencers on other social media platforms, learning the ins and outs of YouTube won’t be a huge leap into the unknown. If your brand doesn’t have experience partnering with influencers, or if you’d like help with your campaigns, our Statusphere team is here to help! Contact us today to learn more about our process and how influencer marketing can help your brand.