Research from GlobalWebIndex shows that consumers are more likely to consider a brand or product if their favorite influencer has promoted it, and that the largest benefit of discovering a product through an influencer is seeing the product in action. Before the pandemic, and especially after, influencers have been a boon to marketers looking to outsource creative and promote their products as in-person shoots and pop-ups remain canceled.

To help marketers meet Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division has rounded up five best practices for making sure that incentivized influencer and customer product reviews are transparent and honest.

#1. Content Responsibility

First, when working with influencers or incentivizing consumers to review their product, marketers should keep in mind that they may be responsible for the content of those posts. Given incentivized posts and reviews may be viewed differently than those posted organically, the FTC requires disclosure of material connections. Brands that lack the required disclosures may be responsible.

#2. Disclosing Disclosure

The National Advertising Division suggests that brands implement policies that notify the influencer or consumer of the need to disclose material connections. The brand should then monitor the post or review to ensure the proper disclosures are made.

#3. Keep It Simple

Disclosures should be in clear language that’s understandable to consumers, such as #ad. The organization found that a disclosure stating that an influencer was “hosted” by the brand doesn’t sufficiently convey the nature of the relationship. A more effective disclosure is: “I really love the free products X brand provided.”

#4. Keep It Close

Brands should also ensure that the disclosure on the post, be it visual or audio, is in close proximity to the endorsement message. For example, if the influencer is posting about a product on their Instagram Stories, the disclosure should be readable or audible at the same time they talk about the product. If the post is published on multiple platforms, for example both on TikTok and Instagram, brands must ensure that the disclosure travels.

#5. Don’t Mislead

Lastly, brands must ensure that an influencer or consumer’s language about a product doesn’t make unsubstantiated claims about the product that aren’t supported. The National Advertising Division suggests brands adopt policies that mandate the removal of false or misleading reviews in the same way they have policies for taking down offensive reviews.