Blogger disclosure is important when working with brands or influencer programs. Now, brands are trying to get around it.

I’ve been blogging since 2009, and since that time a lot has changed.  I mean A LOT. If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.  However, if you’re a new blogger, then you probably don’t know a lot about blogger disclosure and think “this is just how its always been” or maybe you’re just unaware. Which I totally don’t fault you for — there is SO MUCH to learn.

There are also a number of entities out there that do slimy, skeezy things that unknowing bloggers might think is a good idea – because let’s be honest, most of them sound too good to be true because they are.

I’m writing this article, because I got an email yesterday that was scary alarming.  But I can understand how new bloggers wouldn’t think anything of it.  It seems like a normal email from an influencer company inviting bloggers to try out a product and write a review.

Enter exhibit #1:
(I’ve cropped the screenshot of the email to save this company from being recognized as well as the product)

The email states:
“2. Purchase the product from the retail link we send you and get reimbursed (sign up form will explain reimbursement options)
3. Try out the product for a week or two.
4. Post an image or video on one or more of your social media channels by the due date we provide to you.
5. Share about this product with friends.
6. Leave a review at the retail site you purchased it from.

Please note, we are not giving you this product for free in exchange for a review. We are paying you to spread the word about this product and share on your social media. IF you love/enjoy the product and decide to review it on Amazon, then you are free to do so.  However, you were not paid to.

Sound fishy to you? Because red flags and alarms went off all over inside my head.  So I headed over to check out Amazons policy on reviews.  You can find it here.

The specific bullet point of what they don’t allow says:

  • A customer posts a review of the product after being promised a refund in exchange for the review

I couldn’t believe that a company was doing this, so I thought, OK, benefit of the doubt right? Maybe they’re wanting a review on another site outside of Amazon, or maybe it really is optional.  But in their email above, #6 states that the blogger needs to leave a review where they purchased it… guess where they are directed to purchase it?  Amazon. (sheesh, so much for blogger disclosure.)

The first bullet point in the email that I excluded from the image above is a link to their sign up form for this product program.  On that form, they have to agree that they are willing to:

There was no mistake about it.  They were trying to get me to agree to post a review on Amazon for a product I was being reimbursed for, which is in direct violation of Amazon’s policy.

Now, the fault is two-fold here.  The FTC requires both brands and influencers to disclose, so when in doubt, always disclose and if you ever see an offer like the one we reviewed here, run. You don’t need that.

What questions do you have on disclosures or influencer programs?  Let me know in the comments!