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Legally Protectable Parts of a Blog

woman writing down the legally protectable parts of a blog

Curious about the legally protectable parts of a blog? Read on to learn a little more about copyright protection for a blog and trademarks for bloggers.

Blog Name

This is kind of an easy one, right? It is the name by which all of your readers recognize your work, your blog, and a name. Of course, the name is a protectable part of the blog because it is a signifier. And the thing that signifies a brand to your readers — the blog name — is protectable under trademark law.

Infographics

Next, infographics. Of course, that can be anything from an explanation of a process to a cool way that you’ve set out the ingredients that go into a recipe. And infographics are graphic designs, which are artwork, which are protectable, under copyright law.

Blog Posts

The actual blog post. So what is a blog post? It is text, it is maybe video or audio visual materials, maybe some kind of free download, and maybe graphic designs, and maybe all of those things. And each and every one of those things, is a creative work and creative content that is protectable under copyright law.

Videos

A video or a vlog. Well, that’s easy, it’s like a motion picture, right? And that motion picture or audio visual work is certainly a traditional creative work protectable under copyright law.

Hashtags (not really a protectable part of a blog, but quasi-protectable)

Hashtags are tricky. Sometimes, brands will use their own trademark, their own brand name, as a hash tag among other hash tags. When it’s used in that way, that trademark of course, is a trademark whether or not it’s a hash tag. It’s being used as a hashtag, but it is a trademark. Now other hashtags are moreso descriptors or descriptions — whether you are using DIY blogger, or #lifestyleblogger, or #lifestylebloggerlife, or any of those — those are hashtags you’re using to get people to find you. And because they are not really trademarks… they aren’t really copyright either. They’re not really anything, they are descriptors or descriptions used so that you can grow your audience, right?

Printables

Who doesn’t love a good printable? A printable is most likely a download and most likely in PDF or JPEG form. And so those are actually protectable under copyright law.

Photos

Same thing with photos, whether they’re downloadable or not, of course, photos are a huge part of blog posts, and photographs are certainly protectable under copyright law.

Recipes…kind of.

Finally, recipes. And this is a tricky one. So recipes, “mere listings of ingredients,” are actually called out as not protectable under copyright law. Now how to get around this as a blogger. Well, it’s very rare that you will see a blog post with just a list of ingredients without any kind of prose or at least instructions on how to make whatever the recipe is. And instructions by themselves too are kind of tricky when it comes to copyright law. But the more creative you can be with those instructions, the more storytelling you add to it, the more photos you add to the recipe, then it starts to become a more creative, copyright-protectable work. So recipes, kind of copyright territory depending on if you have the right elements in that post.

I hope this helps you to better understand what’s protectable in your blog, and whether it falls under copyright territory or trademark territory.

Disclosure Rules on Social Media

social media disclosure rules

In this quick read, you’re going to learn when to post a disclosure along with your social media post. (Hint: disclosures aren’t just for traditional sponsored posts.) You’ll also learn what makes for a good disclosure.

When do I need to follow disclosure rules on social media?

So, the very quick, very short answer to “When do I need to post a disclosure,” is whenever there is a “material connection” between you and the brand.

The question of course, is, what does “material connection” mean? A material connection is any connection between you and the brand that goes beyond just “I found this and I like it” or “I came across this brand and wanted to share it with you.”

The rules aren’t just for traditional “sponsored” posts.

Disclosure rules on social media aren’t just for sponsored posts. A “material connection” includes:

  • Receiving free products (or even discounted products),
  • Receiving a special invitation to an event
  • An employment relationship with a brand,
  • A family or friendship relationship with a brand, and
  • Some kind of stock ownership in a brand.

Basically, disclosure rules on social media come into play with any relationship that goes beyond what any of us consumers would have with a brand.

What’s in a good disclosure?

Well, a good disclosure is clear, and it is conspicuous. It is not ambiguous. A statement like “Thank you, [brand]!” is not really clear, and it’s a little ambiguous. It does not show that there’s some kind of material connection between the poster and the brand. Same thing with #partner. That kind of, might suggest that there’s something going on. But especially when you’re relying on hashtags, you want to make sure that those hashtags are very clear.

Does the user have to tap the “More” to see your disclosure? A lot of times people don’t tap more to see more. Even on visual media like instagram stories and Snapchat, you want to make sure that those disclosures are conspicuous.

So I hope you walk away today with a good explanation of what a material connection is, what a good disclosure has, and when to follow those disclosure rules on social media.

How Apple’s New Privacy Rules are a Good Thing for Influencers

I was probably unreasonably geeked when I saw that Apple’s new privacy rules that are rolling out in the fall of 2020. In this short post, you’re going to have an understanding of what Apple’s new privacy practices are, how they will affect the online space and why it’s a good thing for content creators.

Apple’s New Privacy Rules: The Features

When an app wants to track or collect data on a user, an Apple device will prompt the user. You’re actually already familiar with this. It’s just like the prompt you receive if an app wants to access your photos or access your microphone. But now, thanks to Apple’s new privacy rules, that prompt will say “Do you permit [app] to use your location data?” (For example.)

Also, an app will have to say which data they have on you that is linked to you. For example, financial information, contacts, browsing history, location purchases, and identifiers.

Probably the coolest part of this update is what Apple’s User Privacy Manager calls a “nutrition label for apps.” After the update, when you log into the app store, you will see that each app will have a nutrition label of sorts that shows what data they collect from users of the app, and what they do with it. That will be that data that’s linked to you and data that’s used to track you. The privacy updates will also apply if you’re a safari user. You will see a privacy report on that bar of Safari. You’ll be able to see all the third party trackers on a website when you’re on a website using Safari.

How is This Good for Content Marketing?

So what does this mean for content creators and influencers? Well, first, people in general might be less inclined to use certain apps once they see how their data is being used. Second, and most importantly, bought and paid for ads like Google ads like Facebook ads may start to be less effective when people are more in control of their own data.

That is where organic content marketing comes in. If traditional advertisements are less effective, because the data tracking has become harder to do or less effective itself, then don’t you see how organic content marketing can be all the more attractive? You, as a content creator, have analytics that don’t tie to any specific person. You can show engagement and keep track of that information without violating anyone’s privacy. And so content marketing and influencer marketing can only go up in value.

My opinion is that content marketing and influencer marketing will only continue to increase. So keep plugging away, and keep creating that content.

Protecting a Content-Based Business, Part 3: Content You Can Copyright

woman wondering what content you can copyright
Not a reader? Watch, and get the same exact info, here.

This is the third and final part of my three-part series on protecting a content-based business. In Part One, we talked about the prerequisites for copyright protection. In Part Two, we talked about making sure that you own that stuff.

And here’s part three, where I’m going to list off a bunch of content you can copyright with the Copyright Office. In other words, this is content that is protectable under U.S. copyright law.

Now when I say protectable, I mean able to be protected. So long as it goes back to those three things that I talked about in part one of this series: it’s creative, it’s tangible, and it’s owned by you.

Alright, let’s get to the categories of content you can copyright!

Content You Can Copyright, Category 1: Text.

This can be blog post text, text on a social media posts like an Instagram caption, the script for a video, and show notes for a podcast episode.

Content You Can Copyright, Category 2: Photos.

Blog post photos, photos from social media posts, those all count.

Now what does not count? Stock photos. Even if you’ve paid to use those stock photos, you probably don’t own them unless you commissioned a photographer to take some stock photos for you. And even then, check your agreement with the photographer to make sure you understand who owns those photos.

Category 3: Video. (Obviously.)

But watch out for any stock video elements. You probably don’t own those.

Content You Can Copyright, Category 4: Audio.

That can include any music you created, that includes podcast episodes, and that includes audio trainings.

Again, just like with stock photos, if you’ve paid for a license to use music in any of those settings, whether it’s your podcast intro or whatever it is, you might not own that music. A license is not ownership, it’s permission.

Category 5: Your Opt-In.

Opt-ins can definitely be protectable under US copyright law. This includes:

  • Downloadable PDFs,
  • webinars,
  • audio trainings,
  • templates you’ve designed,
  • checklists,
  • even quizzes.

Those things are all protectable.

Content You Can Copyright, Category 6: An Online Course.

An online course is chocked full of different content you can copyright. It’s full of:

  • Worksheets (aka, text),
  • Video,
  • Maybe audio recordings,
  • Maybe infographics.

All of that creative stuff that goes into an online course? Yep, that’s protectable under copyright law.

Finally, Content Category 7: Graphic Designs.

Graphic designs are artwork, and they are definitely protectable under copyright law. That includes:

  • Your pins that you pin to Pinterest — so long as you own all of the elements that go into the creation of that pin.
  • Podcast cover art,
  • Infographics,
  • Video thumbnails, and
  • Graphic designs that are encompassed into your video.

So I just ran through a bunch of things that are encompassed into content-based businesses and that are protectable under US copyright law.

I hope this series helps you when you think about protecting your content-based business!

Protecting a Content-Based Business, Part 2: How to Make Sure You Own Your Content

woman wondering how to make sure you own your content
Visual learner? Get the same info in video form, here.

This is part two in a three-part series on protecting your content based business. (This was part one.) I’m talking about how to make sure that you own your content.

Make Sure You Own Your Content by Actually Creating It Yourself

The first way to make sure that you own your content: create it yourself. It sounds a little bit obvious, but if you create the entire thing yourself, it is likely that you own it.

(Unless you’re an employee and you’re somehow creating it in the scope of your employment for someone else.)

Do you have to mail yourself a copy in order for you to somehow own it? Do you have to register it with the Copyright Office in order to somehow own it? Nope, and nope.

That’s it. Number one: make sure that you created it yourself, and you probably own it.

Now, did you use others somehow in the creation of this content? Examples might be a video editor, or a copywriter contributing to parts of your website. Really any other person that is contributing creative content to your overall work. If so, that person should sign a contract, making sure that you own the rights to that material. I call it an IP Rights Agreement, you might call it or have heard of it as a Work-for-Hire Agreement or IP Assignment Agreement. Either way, you need to make sure that that person signed over the rights in their contribution to you. Otherwise, the default rule is that they own it.

Quick recap.

It’s that simple. One, make sure that you created it. Two, make sure that anyone that contributed to your creative work signed a document confirming that you own the IP.

That’s it for part two! Join me in part three, where I’m talking about a long list of things that you can protect under US copyright law. (Some of which I bet you haven’t thought of.)

Protecting a Content-Based Business, Part I: 3 Prerequisites for Copyright Protection

protecting a content based business part 1 prerequisites for copyright protection

You really should know the prerequisites for copyright protection in the US.

But first, let’s talk about protecting content. A lot of content, like online videos, long form blog posts, micro-blogging, podcast episodes, or some combination of those things. This is a three part series that’s going to break down:

  • The three things you need in order to qualify for copyright protection, (which you’ll find here, in part one)
  • How to make sure you own your creative content (part two); and
  • A list of content that’s eligible for copyright protection, some of which you might not have thought of yourself (part three).

But this is part one, the three prerequisites for copyright protection.

Prerequisite for Copyright Protection, #1: If you want to protect content, it’s gotta be creative.

This doesn’t just mean that it needs to be a work of art, a musical composition, a video, or something that you traditionally think of as creative. It means that your content can’t just be a fact, a mere list of ingredients, a mere idea. It has to be creative. The content should be something that’s the product of “the sweat of your brow.” You’ve worked to create this thing somehow.

You might look at some creative works and think the bar to creativity might be pretty low. You’re right. There’s not a huge bar to creativity. But it does have to be creative.

A theory, a process, an idea: these things are not creative enough to satisfy this prerequisite for copyright protection in the US. But if you have a group of facts that you’ve creatively arranged, that creative arrangement is protectable.

If you’re protecting content via copyright, it has to be tangible.

Now that we’ve gotten the creativity part out of the way, thing two is that it has to be tangible. Not tangible in that you have to actually be able to grab it and touch it. Tangible in that it lives outside of your head. It is either on paper, it is recorded, it is somehow accessible by someone else.

You’ve gotta own it.

The third thing is that it is actually original to you. Now, it can be something that you’ve collaborated with someone else on. Maybe you paid a contractor to contribute creative work. (And, hopefully, they signed a contract.) Or, you have collaborated with someone else and you both own it. Either way, it has to be an original creative work. I will talk a little bit more about originality in part two, but it should be original — as in original to you or owned by you.

So those are the three things: creative, tangible, original. Hope this helps you understand the three prerequisites for copyright protection, and I will see you in the next part of this series.

2 Ways to Protect a Recipe

2 ways to protect a recipe

There are really two ways to protect a recipe. How to protect a recipe depends on how you’re using it and what exactly you want to protect. Are you a food or lifestyle blogger wanting to protect your creative content? Are you an essential oils guru, wanting to protect recipes you’ve developed? Or are you more of a chef that wants to protect a secret recipe? This post will guide you through a quick and easy explanation.


Ways to Protect a Recipe as a Blogger

So the first example, you know, maybe you have a lifestyle blog or a food blog, and you’re publishing recipes, and maybe some mouthwatering photos to go with those recipes online.

Copyright doesn’t extend to lists of ingredients. Lists of ingredients don’t really qualify as a creative work. Recipes are kind of instructional and instructions are functional.

So is anything protectable? Yes. What’s protectable is a photo, an anecdote or a story of maybe how you came up with the recipe, the prose and the text around the recipe, all of those things that make your blog unique and beautiful. The things that make it more than just a list of instructions.

If you are a blogger maybe that falls into this category, you might think about establishing some kind of copyright regimen, and registering those blog posts with the photographs, so long as you own all of that content.

Ways to Protect a Secret Recipe

If you have a secret recipe, then you’re probably thinking more along the lines of trade secret. Now, what is a trade secret? It is a valuable secret that gets its value because it gives you some kind of competitive advantage.

So how do you protect a trade secret? Well, make sure it stays secret. Make sure that it only falls into the hands of those who need to know and make sure those people sign an NDA — Non-Disclosure Agreement. And one kind of famous example of trade secret protection is KFC, their herbs and spices, right. So, allegedly half of the blend is mixed at one facility, half of the blend is mixed at another facility, and neither facility knows what’s in the other’s recipe.

You don’t have to register a trade secret anywhere in order for it to qualify for protection, you just kind of have to take those protective measures.

Maybe you’re not mixing things at two different facilities, but maybe you’re password-protecting, you know, any files that contain the recipe.

I hope that helps when it comes to understanding ways to protect a recipe.


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Protecting Yourself When Using Guest Bloggers

women who have protected themselves when using guest bloggers and contributors

By the end of this post, you’re going to understand who owns the IP when you use guest bloggers and how to change that. You’ll also learn about some alternatives to asking for IP ownership when working with guest bloggers and contributors. So here we go.

Who owns the IP when you’re working with a guest blogger?

Let’s say a guest blogger writes a really great post, or even a guest vlogger on your video show creates really great content that you publish under your brand. Who owns that content?

Well, by default, the guest blogger owns that content. Unless you have something in writing, that’s signed, of course, the author of that creative work, that post, owns that content.

Now, if you wanted to change that, you could enter into what’s called a Work-for-Hire/ IP Rights Agreement. Essentially, that type of agreement says, I, content creator, grant all of the rights to this post, this work product, to you, blog owner.

Alternatives to asking for total copyright ownership

First Publication Parameters and Exclusivity

Now depending on the platform, depending on the guest blogger, they may not want to give up all rights to their blog post. So there are some alternatives that you can consider depending on your relationship.

The first is first publication rights. Essentially, if you don’t ask for IP ownership, it’s reasonable to ask for first publication. This means you are the one that gets to be the first to publish this post or this video. And it’s reasonable to ask for a certain period of exclusivity. Think of exclusivity as a certain amount of time where you are the only one that publishes this content on the internet and the guest blogger has to wait a certain amount of time before they can republish it elsewhere like medium or their own blog or platform.

Attribution (You know. Credit.)

Second, let’s say this is stellar, stellar content. And for that stellar content, you, the blog owner, have provided this great platform and this great audience that has caused this post or this video to go viral. You as the blog or platform owner may not ask for ownership. But, to the extent that this one post turns into something more — maybe it becomes the catalyst for an e-course or maybe it becomes part of a print publication like a coffee table book, or another type of written work. Well, you can require, as the blog owner, the platform owner, attribution, such as “this post originally appeared on such and such a blog at such and such a date, and is reprinted by permission” or simply stating it was originally published on your blog.

What happens if someone infringes on the contribution?

And then something else to consider when using guest bloggers or contributors is the question of what happens if that post that video that contribution is infringed? Well, this is why some kind of contributor agreement is a good idea, right? You want to make clear who owns the IP to that contribution. But you also want to be sure who has the right to enforce it. If there’s an infringer, without a written document, there might be a question of, okay, who gets to who sends the cease and desist letter, the blog owner, or the guest content provider? A good contribution agreement will speak to that.


I hope this gives you an idea of things to think through in terms of who owns the IP when using a guest blogger or guest contributor. You have some alternatives that you can ask for or discuss, like first publication, and also thinking about attribution and requiring credit if that content turns into something more. Then, of course, think about infringement and who has the right to enforce when someone has copied that guest contribution.


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The PPP for Bloggers, Podcasters, and Other Self-Employed Online Business Owners

woman researching ppp for bloggers and podcasters

The CARES Act created a wonderful opportunity for businesses struggling because of COVID-19. That opportunity is through the PPP or Paycheck Protection Program. This post will talk about the PPP for bloggers, podcasters, and other self-employed individuals doing business online.

Note: This is ever-changing! There are several different interpretations of the PPP and I will continue to update this post as much as I can.

An explanation of what the Paycheck Protection Program is, in 15 seconds

The PPP is a loan program through the SBA. It was created as part of the CARES act for businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. (And really, what business isn’t, aside from maybe Zoom and the grocery industry?)

What it means when people say this is “free money”

I repeat, this is a loan program. But, it’s a loan you don’t have to pay back…so long as you use the funds for certain specific things, like payroll expenses. Hence, free money.

Snapshot of the PPP application. Access the full application here.

Are bloggers, podcasters, and self-employed business owners eligible for the PPP?

Short answer: Probably.

Long answer: So long as you meet the following requirements, which you’ll have to sign off on when applying for the loan.

  1. Less than 500 employees (with some exceptions that probably don’t apply to bloggers and podcasters);
  2. In operation as of February 15, 2020;
  3. Current economic uncertainty makes the funds necessary to support your ongoing business operations;
  4. Funds must be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, OR make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments;
  5. You haven’t received another PPP loan; and
  6. You had employees whom you paid salaries and payroll taxes OR paid independent contractors.

So that last one, #6, is the kicker.

Technically, if you’re a single-member LLC, you don’t pay yourself a salary or issue yourself a 1099. So the big, bad question that no one has made crystal clear yet is, does a draw paid to yourself, as a self-employed person, count as a salary or wages for PPP purposes?

We know that expenses you incur to pay any employees definitely count.

The PPP application itself says:

With respect to “purpose of the loan,” payroll costs consist of compensation to employees (whose principal place of residence is the United States) in the form of salary, wages, commissions, or similar compensation; cash tips or the equivalent (based on employer records of past tips or, in the absence of such records, a reasonable, good-faith employer estimate of such tips); payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care coverage, including insurance premiums, and retirement; payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees; and for an independent contractor or sole proprietor, wage, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment or similar compensation

So, based on what we’re told from the application, these things probably count, too:

  • A monthly draw you give yourself from your LLC
  • Wages you earn from self-employment

How much money can you get from the PPP?

Here’s the simplest way to make that calculation if you are a sole prop or LLC that files a Schedule C along with your income taxes:

Get out your 2019 return (your 2018 return is PROBABLY ok if you haven’t filed for 2019 yet, but they haven’t explicitly stated that the 2018 return is ok, just FYI).

Flip back to your Schedule C from your business.

Look at line 31. Divide that number by 12. That’s your average monthly payroll amount! Now multiply that by 2.5, and that’s the amount that you can ask for.

When bloggers, podcasters, and other self-employed online business owners can apply for PPP

Now. Like, RIGHT NOW.

Technically, “small businesses and sole proprietorships” can apply as of April 3, 2020. “independent contractors and self-employed individuals” can apply as of April 10, 2020. This is about as clear as mud, because you can be self-employed, and a sole prop. Or an independent contractor, and a sole-prop. Or a small business, and self-employed. So I repeat, if you think you qualify, just log into your bank and apply now.

Because the thing with this loan is that it’s only available until they run out of the funds earmarked for it. 10% of the entire amount earmarked has already been applied-for.

Not trying to instill panic, here. Just want you to shake a leg and apply if you are eligible!


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Why You Should Put a Copyright Notice on Your Blog or Website

By the end of this quick video you’re going to know why it’s important to put a copyright notice on your blog or website. You’ll also learn what a copyright notice means, when to use it, and what it prevents.

First, what goes in a copyright notice?

There are three elements to a proper notice.

1. The copyright symbol or the word “copyright”

2. The year of first publication of the copyrighted work

3. Is the name of the owner of the copyright.

You will see that on the bottom of websites, you will see it on the inside of albums, but for our purposes we’re talking about the bottom of websites and we’re talking about the show notes, maybe, for a podcast.

Q: When can you use the copyright symbol?

A: Any time.

You can use it once that copyrighted material escapes your brain and is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression…” That’s fancy lawyer speak for living outside of your head and written out on paper. It’s a protectable, copyrighted work long as it’s recorded or put somewhere that others can see and experience it. (Even if that “other” is just you.)

You don’t have to have your work registered with the Copyright Office in order to use that © symbol or the copyright notice.

Is putting a copyright notice on my website that important?

It used to be required in order to have copyright protection! Nowadays, that’s not the case. You still have protection regardless of whether you publish something with a proper notice.

HOWEVER, if you don’t have a copyright notice, then an infringer could claim “innocent infringement.”

That comes into play and is a big deal because you’ve heard me talk about statutory damages as a benefit of copyright registration, right? Those big money damages, and the right to get your attorneys’ fees, those are reserved only for works that are registered with the Copyright Office.

If someone can claim innocent infringement, then their monetary liability — the amount of money they’re required to pay you for infringement — is knocked down drastically.

So, we want to avoid anyone claiming innocent infringement. Use that copyright notice, it’s not hard.

Remember: copyright symbol, year of publication, owner.

And remember that you don’t have to have a registration in order to use that notice.

So I hope that helps you understand when, where, and why to use a copyright notice on your blog or website.


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Is a Blog Post Automatically Protected from Copycats?

is your blog post automatically protected from copycats

By the end of this post you will know at what point your blog post is automatically protected from copycats under copyright law. Let’s go!

First, what’s protectable about a blog post or vlog?

So first, what does a blog or vlog consists of? Well, it consists of maybe video content, audio-visual content, you’ve got text, maybe some graphic designs, all of those things are protectable under US copyright law.

They’re creative works and under US copyright law something is protected the minute it is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” That is fancy lawyer talk for no longer just living in your brain, no longer living as an idea. It is fleshed out, it’s written out, it’s recorded somewhere.

When is a blog post automatically protected?

So is a blog post automatically protected?

Yep! Even before you hit publish, you own the copyright to what you’ve created there.

Copyright protection and copyright registration are two different things.

A lot of people confuse copyright protection with copyright registration. When you publish or write out that blog post, it automatically has protection. But, it is not automatically registered. You don’t HAVE to register your blog post or vlog in order to have copyright protection. Registration is not a prerequisite to copyright protection.

However I DO recommend that you check out my post on three big reasons why to register your website with the Copyright Office. There are some good reasons to register your stuff with  the Copyright Office, and I’ll give you a couple little hints. It has to do with boosts in protection and a little cash money in your pocket.

So I hope that this helps you to better understand when a blog is automatically protected from copycats under US copyright law.


If you are interested in learning how to register your blog or website with the Copyright Office, I am for the first time, releasing a live workshop.

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Using Sponsored Post Hashtags Properly

using hashtags for sponsored posts legally

#ad #sponsored #gifted #affiliate #unboxing… Yes, these hashtags mean that your post is sponsored. By the end of this post you will have an understanding of how each of these hashtags indicate a sponsored post and what the hashtags really mean. 

Reminder: What constitutes a Sponsored Post?

First, a little reminder on what constitutes a sponsored post. A sponsored post is when you receive something of value and then you post about it. It doesn’t have to be money! It can be a gift, it can be free goods. If you receive something of value and post about it to your following, it’s probably worth disclosing that there’s more than just a “I love this product” relationship.

Let’s talk about hashtags.

#Ad.

This one’s pretty straightforward, just like #sponsored or #partner, although #partner, I would argue, is a little bit more vague and you probably need more than just #partner. But, using #ad or #sponsored shows that your post is an advertisement. Remember though, that the FTC has said that using #ad along with a bunch of other hashtags might not be enough to show that it’s a sponsored post. Specifically, the FTC said this:

In other words, you could still use #ad and be in hot water if it’s not conspicuous. Think: conspicuous, easy to spot, not vague.

#Gifted.

If a brand gifts you with something, you didn’t have to pay for it, and you post about it to your following, that is a sponsored post worth disclosing the relationship. You received something of value. You’re posting about it. The FTC said this during a live Q&A when they first came out speaking about influencers and disclosing sponsored posts. 

The question was:

The FTC said:

To me, that says even if you’re sharing your own experience with this gifted product, you need to disclose that there was some kind of gift made and that you’ve received this benefit for free. Just like the event, if your point of view relates to the brand/sponsor, then it’s worth making that disclosure to keep the FTC away.

#Unboxing.

This is a fun but kind of ambiguous hashtag. Just like #gifted, you never know when you see a #unboxing whether the poster has been paid to do this, did she receive this stuff for free, is this part of a campaign… Sometimes it’s not clear. Is it a product from a brand you’re working with? Is it something that you’ve been gifted? #Unboxing all by itself does not reveal that there’s some kind of ad or sponsorship relationship at play. In order to keep the FTC happy, and to be clear and conspicuous, you might think about using #ad and/or #sponsored along with the unboxing.

#Affiliate.

#Affiliate, like #ad, is pretty self-explanatory, so long as it’s, again, not used in a sea of a million hashtags.  If you’re an affiliate for a company, you should disclose that, and use #affiliate when talking about that company or that product or service. Remember, it should be used in a conspicuous way, either in the blog post or social media post, overlaid on image-only platforms like Snapchat, and also in video captions.

So I hope this gives you a better understanding of those sponsored hashtags in their different forms, and some things to remember when using them.

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