What You Need to Know About Banned Hashtags on Instagram

banned hashtags
Between recent privacy concerns and updates to the Instagram algorithm and feed, the platform is going through some big changes that affect both marketers and users. At The Motherhood, we always have our ear to the ground to track the impact of these changes on influencer campaigns, and we will provide insights in subsequent blog posts as the dust begins to settle. Today, we plan to focus on Instagram’s banned hashtags.
If you manage social media profiles for your brand or blog, then you are probably familiar with how hashtags can help increase your reach and engagement, particularly on Instagram. But what you might not know is that more than 114,000 hashtags have been banned on Instagram, and using a banned hashtag can cause your content, or even your account, to be blocked.
Are you unknowingly using these banned hashtags? How do you implement a smart and Instagram-approved hashtag strategy? Read on for The Motherhood’s tips on how to effectively use hashtags on Instagram.

WHy is instagram banning hashtags?

When Instagram detects that a hashtag is being used broadly with content that violates their Community Guidelines, the platform will ban the hashtag, and it can be either temporarily or permanently blocked. These guidelines encourage users to “foster meaningful and genuine interactions,” stating:

“Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.”

While inauthentically gaining engagement is a common reason for banning a hashtag, other violations of community guidelines include posting unoriginal photos, copyrighted photos, graphic images, hate speech, or threats and discrimination against other Instagram members.

What happens when I use banned hashtagS?

Using banned Instagram hashtags can shadowban, or in serious cases, block your account from the Instagram Community. Banned hashtag use could also render your other hashtags useless (meaning your post also won’t show up in their respective hashtag feeds).

To see if your post has been shadowbanned, you can click on any hashtag in your post (if you used more than one) and check if your image appears in that hashtag’s feed. If it does not, there is a chance that your post was shadowbanned.

whICH hashtags are banned?

The list has included common hashtags like #adultlife, #beautyblogger and #instamood. It also includes some you probably wouldn’t suspect, but have been used in spam-like posts often, like #kansas.

Check out this list from Social Insider, but keep in mind that it does not include all of the 114,000 hashtags that are or have been blocked. As with anything on social media, this list is ever-evolving, so hashtags that appear on this list may no longer be banned by the time you are thinking about using them.

One way to tell if a hashtag is still banned is to go to Instagram’s app and search for a hashtag under the “Tag” section. If it doesn’t appear in the list, it’s banned. If it does appear, you’ll want to click on it and make sure that it isn’t partially banned. Here’s an example of that:

Image from Rebelle Nutrition

 

should I even use hashtags?

Don’t say no to hashtags altogether! Research has shown that using even one hashtag in a post can increase engagement by 12.6 percent.

While Instagram’s limit is up to 30 hashtags, we advise you not to use 30 hashtags in one post. According to research by TrackMaven (via Revive), performance peaks when you use around 10 hashtags per Instagram post. More than that can look spammy — both to your followers and to Instagram’s algorithm!

Instagram encourages its community not to solely rely on hashtags for growth, but instead on creative and organic content. So while hashtags can certainly be implemented in your content to increase exposure, make sure you aren’t relying too heavily on them.

Important tip: Do not use Instagram bots to increase engagement! They can potentially hurt your account, as Instagram has recently been cracking down on bots and making updates to the algorithm that will penalize or shadowban your posts.

Which banned hashtag surprised you? Share it in the comments!

2018 Blogger Conferences and Industry Events: Are You Attending?

blogger conferences

Industry conferences are one of the best avenues for professional development for influencers. Attending conferences offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in a specific topic, meet and hear from leaders in a variety of industries, build your brand (corporate or personal) and network with other like-minded individuals. And when it comes to blogger conferences and social media events specifically, we’re seeing more and more crop up every year. As pioneers in the industry, we couldn’t be more excited about that because it validates just how powerful this movement, our voices and these technologies are!

While conferences offer a valuable experience, it’s usually a significant investment to attend — both financially and time-wise. We surveyed our network of amazing influencers and asked if they were making such investments to attend any conferences this year, and their thoughts on these events. Take a look at what they have to say here!

Benefits of Attending blogger Conferences

According to our survey, the top benefit of attending blogger-specific conferences is networking with brands and agencies! The feeling is mutual: from an agency perspective, we absolutely love the opportunity to meet influencers face-to-face, especially since so much of our work is done online.

Other top reasons for influencers to attend include networking with other bloggers, attending workshops to learn about new trends and techniques, and hearing a keynote speaker.

popular influencer marketing + social media conferences

Many of the influencers we surveyed will be attending Mom 2.0 May 2-4 (for their 10-year anniversary!). BlogHer, Type-AWomen in Travel Summit, and SNAP! Conference, of which we were a proud sponsor last year, were among other popular events that respondents are planning to attend.

Another common theme? Attending niche conferences — whether it’s a soap-making conference like Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild’s, or a pet-focused one like BlogPaws.

SPONSORSHIP TO ATTEND CONFERENCES

Many of the bloggers we surveyed are conference veterans, and only plan on attending if their attendance is sponsored by a brand. Sponsoring bloggers to attend events is a great way for both brands and bloggers to have a presence at conferences. For the brand, it guarantees exposure of their message. For bloggers, it helps offset the expense of the trip and allows them to build a stronger partnership with the brand. A handful of the bloggers we heard from have confirmed on-site ambassadorships at conferences this year, where they will be extensions of the brand team at the event.

Others we heard from have brand partnerships that will result in post-conference coverage, demonstrating just a few of the multiple ways brands and bloggers can work together during these events!

Influencers attending blogger conferences

Trina from The Mommyhood Life visited the StarKist booth at BlogHer 2017 as part of a partnership with the brand and The Motherhood.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS on blogger conferences FROM OUR INFLUENCERS

Some of the hurdles that preclude bloggers from attending events include proximity and timing. Others, as individuals who have attended dozens of conferences in their careers, mentioned they don’t see a huge return on their investment since the events aren’t always geared toward what they’re looking to learn.

While continued online education opportunities are certainly not lacking — with webinars, digital downloads and more — it’s always refreshing to have these opportunities to connect in person.

If you didn’t have a chance to take our survey, tell us in the comments if you plan on attending any blogger conferences this year!

Spotlight Blogger: Fatima, Motherhood Through My Eyes

A mom of two, and with one on the way, Fatima is the woman behind Motherhood Through My Eyes. As a top lifestyle blogger, Fatima shares the joys — and the not-so-joyful moments — of parenthood in a real and approachable way. We love her tips on how she juggles parenting, work and life (more on that below!). Fatima is a consistently professional and reliable influencer, which are just a few of the reasons why we’re thrilled to feature her as our Spotlight Blogger this month! We recently asked Fatima about her thoughts on the social media marketing industry. Take a look at what the Motherhood Through My Eyes creator had to say in our Q&A!

Where do you find inspiration for new blog posts?
My blog features a lot of thoughts I have throughout the day. Most of the time, I do “research” by chatting it up with other moms to see how they feel about a certain subject. Another place I find inspiration is by reading other blogs.

What is your favorite space to engage with your readers?
Instagram is a great place to meet other like-minded people. Through the use of hashtags, I’ve been able to connect with other moms and stay in touch throughout the journey.

What’s the #1 question you’re asked by your readers, and what’s your answer?
I’m often asked how do I do it. The truth is, I follow the “Pick Three” rule by Randi Zuckerberg: I focus on three things I want to improve and stick to them. No matter how much you enjoy multitasking, it doesn’t always mean you’re balancing everything very well.

Influencer marketing is ________.
Exciting!

What should brands start doing (better) when working with bloggers?
I think more brands should give bloggers the freedom to be creative. A good blogger will come up with ideas for her client based on what she sees working in the blogosphere. A lot of times, companies already have an idea as to what they’d like a blogger to create on her website/social channels. Although that sounds great for their marketing team, it can come off as being inauthentic for the blogger’s readers.

What are your thoughts on blogging conferences?
Blogging conferences are a great place to learn about the industry and connect with like-minded bloggers.

Favorite program you’ve done with The Motherhood?
Working with Angela Santomero through The Motherhood was a pleasure. It was interesting to learn how many moms were against the idea of screen time for their little ones, but knew it could be a good thing. It goes to show Angela was right. It’s all about the content.

What are your thoughts on affiliate marketing?
I’ve tried affiliate marketing a couple of times, and I’m still part of

 a number or programs with well-known retailers, however, it’s more passive income for me.

What is your most productive time of day?
Mornings are always the most productive. It’s when I’m the most alert and can focus on developing ideas for clients.

Learn more about Fatima of Motherhood Through My Eyes and connect with her on Instagram, here!


More about The Motherhood’s Spotlight Blogger Series
Each month, our internal team convenes and discusses our latest programs, stellar partnerships and top influencers. It’s not about numbers, but rather, the quality, authentic content they’re delivering consistently. It’s about reliability, professionalism and partnership. We discuss our nominations for the month and ultimately decide on just one blogger to feature.

Take a look at our other featured influencers here, and stop by in May for the next Spotlight Blogger!

Executives on Social Media: Six Tips to Get Started

Executives on Social Media

It may come as no surprise that, as a social media marketing agency, we believe that an executive’s presence on social media is beneficial for the company he or she leads. Did you know that, as of 2016, only 40 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were active on at least one of six major social networks? Today, around 70 percent of Americans use social media to connect with one another and consume information. That’s a big disconnect – and a big opportunity for executives to connect with their consumers.

We’ve heard various reasons why CEOs and top executives should avoid social media. Some think it takes too much time, or it’s too risky to have a leader sharing unfiltered thoughts on a public forum. Some even believe that being on social media poses a cyber-security threat.

But, when utilized well, social media humanizes brands and executives. Being more human is something every company can benefit from, since large corporations often can be perceived as faceless entities.

Whether it’s looking for input from your consumers, sharing perspective on a topical societal issue, or even using your social media platforms to acknowledge a misstep on behalf of your company, this level of approachability helps build authenticity and ultimately, trust, with consumers.

If you’re an executive who is new to social media, or a communications professional looking to get your c-suite set up for success, here are a few tips on how to find success:

1) Don’t join if you can’t commit to keeping your channels active. If you decide to join a social media platform or two, make sure you dedicate time to keeping them active, and think long-term. Building up a following and leaving them hanging without any updates for weeks, months or even years is a surefire way to lose that following. Tapping a team of experts to help you build a smart, strategic editorial calendar can help to ensure a dynamic social feed. (If you’re not sure where to start, The Motherhood can help! Contact us, and we can work with you to develop your objectives, determine your tone and create a robust stable of content.)

2) Schedule some posts, but not all of them. Social media can be a full-time job if you want it to be! There are several free social media tools that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, and that can be extremely helpful in keeping your channels active. But, scheduling all of your posts can come across as inauthentic and worse, unintentionally tone-deaf – if, for example, a Facebook post about your company’s latest advertisement goes out when news just breaks about a national crisis. The beauty of social media is that it allows you to react in the moment, so executives on social media should embrace that!

3) Be thoughtful about your posts. If you’re not on social media yet, one concern may be that voicing your opinion on such a public forum will backfire. Just as with any communication – online or offline – be thoughtful in what you say via social media. If you’re uncertain, it never hurts to have your team weigh in on content before you publish.

4) Engage in the conversation. Social media is a great way to broadcast messages or information about your brand or personal brand. But, by not engaging with your audience from time to time, you’re overlooking one of the biggest advantages of social media: its two-way nature. While this does require a time commitment, engaging doesn’t always mean you have to have lengthy back-and-forth conversations with others. Ask questions of your audience, “like” or share content that appeals to you, retweet other users’ information. Since these engagements are visible, ensure you are thoughtful about them and that they reflect what you want to communicate about your personal brand.

5) Respond to backlash and concerns. Similar to the suggestion above, if you are faced with a customer concern on social media, respond. With 5.5 million Twitter followers and counting, the CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, has been known to publicly respond to upset customers on social. Even if you ultimately take the conversation offline, acknowledging it in the public forum goes a long way in showing you’re in tune with and listening to your customers. Executives on social media can build trust by being transparent – a lesson that originated long before we were sharing in 240 characters!

6) Be an extension of your marketing department. Having a personal presence on social media doesn’t mean you need to strictly post about your company. Find a happy balance of information that is relevant to your personal life, your industry, your hobbies and your company.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes executives shy away from participating in company-led online marketing events, such as Twitter chats. We frequently host these types of events for our clients. Having seen them with and without the participation of a brand, we can confidently say that when executives join in, we consistently see higher levels of excitement, engagement and participation. Ask your marketing team about their plans and join in as it makes sense!

If you’re a communications professional looking for additional tips on coaching your executives on social media, drop us a line: contact@themotherhood.com.

 

International Women’s Day 2018: Women Changing the World

International Women's Day 2018

Happy International Women’s Day 2018! Over the past year, we’ve witnessed a surge in the dialogue around issues that women face: discrimination, sexual harassment, the wage gap, violence and more. We’re inspired by this conversation — because the more we can collectively bring these issues to light, the more we can move toward gender equality.

In honor of International Women’s Day 2018 and the incredible women we’re honored to work with day in and day out, we wanted to recognize a few ladies (who also happen to be our neighbors!) who are blazing trails on the path toward inclusivity and equality. Read on for more and get ready to be inspired!

International Women's Day 2018

Image from Brown Mama Monologues

The Brown Mama Monologues

In 2014, one of our favorite bloggers and Pittsburgh neighbor, Muffy, first gathered a small group of moms to form Pittsburgh Brown Mamas. Today, the organization reaches nearly 2,000 African-American moms weekly. Their purpose is one anyone can get behind: “making moms better moms so that dads can become better dads, children become better adults and, ultimately, communities become better communities.”

This Mother’s Day weekend, Muffy and the Pittsburgh Brown Mamas will kick off the inaugural Brown Mama Monologues show. The event will feature 10 phenomenal moms of color who will share their trials, triumphs and stories of inspiration, bringing to life the unique experience of what it’s like to be an African-American mom in America.

You can buy tickets to the Brown Mama Monologues at this link!

Women of Achievement Awards: Beverly’s Birthdays & 412 Food Rescue

Earlier this month, our fearless leader, Cooper Munroe, was one of 23 women honored at the 13th annual Women of Achievement Awards (benefiting the amazing Cribs for Kids organization) in Pittsburgh. These awards recognize the accomplishments and contributions these special women bring to their professional fields and communities. Each of the women honored is on her own unique journey, but a common thread among the award recipients is that they are all on a mission to uplift. While we could write a novel about the significant contributions of all those honored, here is how a few of them are spreading messages of hope and happiness.

International Women's Day 2018

Image from Beverly’s Birthdays

Beverly’s Birthdays: Seven years ago, Megs Yunn met a young girl, Beverly, who told her she’d never had her own birthday party or slice of birthday cake. That inspired Megs to start an organization that celebrated birthdays for homeless children in the Pittsburgh region: Beverly’s Birthdays. Her organization aims to ensure no child is forgotten on his or her special day, and to date, they’ve created more than 25,000 birthday experiences!

412 Food Rescue: Did you know that 40 percent of food that’s produced goes to waste? As the CEO and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, Leah Lizarondo is an active food, health and innovation advocate who bridges the gap between food waste, hunger and environmental sustainability. By working with food distributors, retailers, caterers, restaurants, shelters, housing and backpack projects, and soup kitchens, her organization and partners have transformed what would have been landfill fodder into nutritious food for those who might not otherwise have it. All of that work has translated to rescuing more than 2.8 million pounds of surplus food, creating more than 2.35 million meals!

International Women's Day 2018

Image from Cancer Be Glammed

Cancer Be Glammed 

Lisa Lurie started Cancer Be Glammed in 2009 with Ellen Kander, a fellow mom who also “experienced first-hand how hard it can be to hang onto your dignity and self-esteem while battling the side effects of cancer treatment.” Ellen lost her battle with cancer in 2012, and Lisa’s continued work, which she says is Ellen’s legacy, has — for nearly a decade — helped women across the country diagnosed with all forms of cancer prepare for various forms of treatment, and to recover with style and confidence.

#SingleMomDefined

Heather Hopson, another fellow Pittsburgher, communicator, mom and founder of Diary of a First Time Mom, is changing the conversation on how single black moms are portrayed.

“When you Google ‘Single Black Moms are,’ the results, although not shocking, are quite disappointing,” said Heather.

Her latest project, #SingleMomDefined, will change that. The project is a photo essay and video series, and includes a writing workshop, a traveling exhibition and a global art installation featuring 50 amazing moms she personally knows. The effort will elevate the voices of single black mothers and provide a much more accurate definition of life in their worlds: life where their children use words like “graceful,” “strong” and “respectful” when talking about their moms – a reality that doesn’t always exist in Google’s search results.

Love and thanks to these women, and so many more, for helping us all #PressforProgress toward equality through their creative visions and efforts! These are just a handful of the many women (and men) who are advancing the conversation and movement toward equality. Tell us: who inspires you on International Women’s Day 2018?

Spotlight Blogger: Roxy with GrrFeisty

Roxy, GrrFeisty

With a blog named GrrFeisty, you can expect a little bit of sass from Roxy, the brains behind this top lifestyle blog! Her feistiness is just one reason we love her. Roxy’s attention to detail, candor, storytelling talent and her love of her family are a few others – and that’s why she’s our Spotlight Blogger this March! Take a look at our Q&A with Roxy for her thoughts on influencer marketing, social media and more.

Tell us why you blog.
I blog because I am obsessed with documenting, from the day-to-day stuff to important events. Since becoming a mother, I am even more obsessed with keeping track of my (now) 16-month-old daughter’s life. I love sharing our adventures with readers, as well as recommending great products and making a business from that sharing at times.

What content do you feel your readers find most valuable?
My motherhood-related posts have been the most popular. A lot of my readers can relate to my posts, and share their own struggles and successes with me. I’ve received a lot of great advice, but a lot of mom-shaming has occurred as well. Surprisingly, both situations have made me a stronger person.

Where do you see the most engagement with your content?
The most engagement seems to come when discussing challenges I’ve faced as a new mom. Some women are dealing with similar situations, while others have overcome these and share their thoughts and ideas. My parenting struggles are often shared within life updates, which I think people like because it isn’t all mom-related. I talk about books I’ve read, what I am working on (these days, that’s usually homework for grad school!), what I’m wearing, etc. I used to do a lot more fashion posts, so it’s fun to throw those in, as well. I’ve had to rediscover my style in this new body. 🙂

What’s the #1 question you’re asked by your readers, and what’s your answer?
Usually readers will ask me how I find the time to do anything. I’m a new mom, I started working full-time again (after being away for almost three years) in a new position in education with a new age group, and I go to grad school and blog, too. I mean, sometimes I wonder how I find the time, too! “Late nights” is my answer. I want to be around for Lila Sophia (my daughter) as much as possible, which means that I can’t do much after work until she goes to sleep.

What’s your favorite question you’re asked by your brands, and what’s your answer?
My favorite question is something along the lines of: “Will you work with us again?” I love repeat work with brands that I believe in – it’s extremely flattering! Building those relationships is really important.

2018 is the year of: _________
Rediscovering myself. There have been so many life changes within the last two years. Pregnancy, motherhood, natural disasters putting us out of our home (hello, Harvey), graduate school, career changes – I could keep going. My health has taken a toll and I feel like 2018 needs to snap me back into reality. I’ve slowly been replacing my pre-baby wardrobe, and now it’s time to work on my health: what goes in my body versus what goes on my body. I love that I can share my concerns to my readers and receive wonderful support and advice.

What are brands doing right when working with bloggers?
Paying them. I know it sounds blunt, but blogging is so much work! I feel like some readers think of bloggers as doing things for the product, or the paycheck, but when the brand and blogger are a good match, we will easily spend 4-5 hours taking photographs on multiple days, editing the photographs, creating the content, editing the content, and then creating and editing the social media content, and more. When a brand recognizes the work, it’s really a sigh of relief. Hold onto that relationship.

Favorite program you’ve done with The Motherhood?
My favorite program was the collaboration with Christian Brothers Automotive. It was something different for me, but I was definitely interested in learning about taking care of my car. It’s relatively new, and I am usually not the only passenger anymore. 🙂 The collaboration was a unique experience for me and I was able to add just the right touches to make it work for me and my readership. It’s okay to try something new when you are interested in learning!

Who is your mentor?
My friend Maria (Little Tree) in New Jersey, who is about to be a mom! We are constantly texting each other about blogging, campaigns, and now motherhood. Her friendship has been extra special because we met online and then finally connected at a blogger conference. Since then we’ve only built up our friendship. Hopefully we can have a baby play date soon!

How do you organize your day?
I am constantly scanning through my planner and jotting down notes and making schedules. All of my blogger and school deadlines are coded with stickers! If I have a particularly hectic few days, I will write out an hourly plan for that particular day (or days). I also email myself multiple to-do lists throughout the day and jot down quick notes on my hand. Ha!

My priority is my daughter, so I make sure and wake up early enough to have meaningful time before we go our separate ways. (I’m an elementary school librarian by day.) After work, I have more family time (with sprinkles of social media) until the little lady’s bedtime, then comes homework, blogging, and hopefully, some reading.

You can follow along on Roxy’s adventures on Instagram or Facebook!

Roxy, GrrFeisty


More about The Motherhood’s Spotlight Blogger Series

Each month, our internal team convenes and discusses our latest programs, stellar partnerships and top influencers. It’s not about numbers, but rather, the quality, authentic content they’re delivering consistently. It’s about reliability, professionalism and partnership. We discuss our nominations for the month and ultimately decide on just one blogger to feature. Take a look at our other featured influencers here.

 

Tips on How to Maximize Pinterest’s New Updates

If you’re a serious pinner, you’ve probably heard about Pinterest’s new updates, which the social media site rolled out a few weeks ago. They explained that these new tools will make it easier to plan projects and events on Pinterest. Since Pinterest can be a great driver of blog traffic (and, according to Pinterest, it gets more than 2 billion search queries each month!), we wanted to take a closer look at some of Pinterest’s new updates and share how to maximize your experience on the site. Read on for more!

Pinterest’s New Updates: A Summary

Sorting and Archiving Boards

Perhaps one of our favorite new features is the ability for users to archive boards once they’re done with them. Digital hoarding never hurt anyone, but the ability to archive less relevant pins not only helps you stay organized, but per Pinterest, “it also improves the relevance of your recommendations and notifications. So when you archive your wedding board after the big day, you’ll stop seeing recommendations for dresses, bouquets and other related ideas.” Brilliant!

To archive a board, click on “Edit” on your board, then click “Archive.” Archived boards are still accessible but viewable only by you unless you share them using the “Send” button.

Example of Pinterest's new updates

Users can also better organize their active boards: a new “sort” function allows you to arrange them by alphabetical order, most recently saved to, board creation date (newest or oldest) or by a custom-made order.

Reorganizing Pins

The ability to move and reorganize pins is a long-awaited feature. Now, users can rearrange their pins so that they can better visualize them next to other pins, or so they’re immediately visible (for example, you can bump tonight’s dinner recipe to the top of your cooking inspiration board).

To move a pin on iOS, long press to drag and drop it to its new location. You can also hit “Organize” from a board or section to move a pin to a new location on any platform.

Additional Pinterest Features

Have you explored the “Tried” tab feature of Pinterest? You can note which ideas you’ve personally tried and can even add a photo or note of your own below the pin! This will help you keep track of which projects and recipes you’ve tried, which you might recommend to your followers and those you would like to try again.

And while it’s not new per se, we would be remiss if we didn’t call out Pinterest’s visual search feature, since it is another favorite. Using the camera icon next to the search bar on mobile, you can take a photo of something that visually inspires you. As an example, you can take a picture of a tomato, and Pinterest’s Lens feature will pull recipes that feature tomatoes!

Example of Pinterest's new updates

Do you like Pinterest’s new updates? Do you have any current favorite Pinterest features and hacks? Share them with us in the comments!

A Quick Guide to Complying with FTC Disclosure Guidelines

FTC disclosure guidelines

As the conduit between influencers and brands, we make it a priority to stay on top of regulations that apply to the ever-evolving influencer marketing industry. It’s no secret that there’s been a boom in the influencer marketing industry, which is why we thought it was important to share a quick refresher on the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) disclosure guidelines.

These regulations apply to anyone who produces online content about brands in exchange for compensation (and compensation can include not only cash, but free products/services, discounts, special access or other exchange of goods or services).

If you are purchasing the product on your own, there is no need to disclose anything. The FTC only regulates endorsements that are made on behalf of a paying advertiser.

Read on for more on how to stay compliant!

Blog Post Disclosures

The FTC is not overly prescriptive when it comes to providing specific language for disclosure statements. Rather, they state that the goal is “to give readers the essential information.”

Here is an acceptable sample disclosure statement: “Brand X provided me with free products to try in exchange for my honest opinion.” 

A good rule of thumb is to disclose your partnership right away and every time you are talking about it. For a blog post, that generally means at the top of the post (and that includes mentions of affiliate links). The FTC also states that these disclosure statements must be clear and visible to “a reasonable consumer” (meaning they should not have to go searching for the information).

So, if you have a dedicated disclosure page that states you receive free product or compensation in exchange for your reviews, you might think you’re compliant. Per the FTC, though, one single disclosure on one page does not suffice since readers could easily miss it.

Similarly, the FTC advises against linking or redirecting to a full disclosure statement since it “does not convey the importance, nature, and relevance of the information to which it leads and it is likely that many consumers will not click on it and therefore will miss necessary disclosures.”

Additional information and compliance best practices can be found at this link, too.

Social Media Disclosures

Several social media platforms now offer branded content tools (see our post about Facebook’s branded content tool), which allow pages or profiles to visibly indicate content that includes a third party, brand, or sponsor.

While these tools are helpful in marking a paid relationship, the FTC does not consider them adequate for the purposes of disclosure.

To be sure you’re properly disclosing your partnership, in addition to the branded tool, publishers should use one of the following disclosures in the caption or text overlay of a social media post:

  • Ad or #ad
  • Sponsored or #sponsored
  • Promotion or #promotion

Per the FTC, they are not “mandating the specific wording of disclosures. However, the same general principle – that people get the information they need to evaluate sponsored statements – applies across the board, regardless of the advertising medium.” In other words, while you don’t necessarily need to use the exact disclosures listed above, avoid using ambiguous disclosures in social media.

The FTC will also not dictate where in the social post the disclosure needs to be, as long as it is easily noticed or understood.

As of now, the FTC is not actively pursuing violations to these policies, but they will evaluate violations that come to their attention and determine whether or not to fine those who have made the error.

Since this is an ever-changing industry, there are certainly going to be times of uncertainty when it comes to properly adhering to the most current guidelines, so stay tuned for additional updates on this topic.

In the meantime, we recommend bookmarking the FTC’s endorsement guide page for updated information!

How Publishers Can Stay Visible Amidst Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

Facebook's Algorithm

If you manage a page on Facebook, you’re probably aware that Facebook’s algorithm is changing such that users will soon “see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

Facebook noted that this move, which was based on research, is to encourage users to interact with (comment, liking, sharing) the content they do see and that resonates with them.

As a brand, business or publisher, the move to downplay your organic content can be a setback to your overall marketing strategy, but don’t throw in the towel on Facebook just yet! We compiled some tips for how you can help your content stand out amidst the changes.

Be Engaging & Test Different Types of Content

Since the primary goal of these changes is to prioritize information that people care about, publishers should design content that is meant to be engaging.

If up until now your strategy has focused on building awareness, then identifying the right types of engaging content – whether that manifests as text-based posts, video/live video, GIFs or static imagery – will likely be a trial-and-error process. Consider what types of stories will draw people in the most and will encourage them to join the conversation.

It’s important to remember that there’s a distinction between engagement and engagement bait, too. Posts that explicitly ask users to share and comment are considered engagement bait, and Facebook penalizes that type of content. Content should inspire users to join in on the conversation on their own accord.

And don’t forget to engage in dialogue with your audience. After all, social media was always intended to be a two-way street, and we don’t see that changing any time soon!

Incorporate a Paid Strategy

Most social-savvy publishers have known that organic reach on Facebook for brands has been limited for a while now. Many are calling Facebook’s algorithm change the “nail in the coffin” for an organic-only strategy.

With the latest change, users will continue to see paid ads, so if you haven’t allocated budget for paid Facebook ads, now is the time to do that.

However, experts anticipate that prices and competition for paid Facebook ads will change soon, too. Before the latest algorithm change, Facebook’s ad rates had risen by 35 percent in the last quarter alone. According to Digiday, “Arguably, the change has merely increased competition — and therefore prices — for getting into the news feed, by pushing out those who can’t afford to pay to be in it.”

Having a strategic plan and budget in place is key to getting the most bang for your buck with Facebook Ads. Test different types of content with your ads to better understand what ultimately helps your audience connect with you.

Explore Facebook Live

If you haven’t taken the plunge with Facebook Live videos, you might want to now! Facebook Live videos defy the newest changes and will continue to show up in the news feed regularly because they encourage engagement.

Facebook is still cracking down on spammy, “watch-bait” live videos, so make sure you’re broadcasting quality content. And during the broadcast, don’t be afraid to encourage your viewers to ask questions and share your content (versus stating that in the caption).

For more tips on how to execute great Facebook Live broadcasts, check out our blog post on the topic here.

Facebook was created as a way for people to connect with one another. The latest changes are nothing to fear if publishers keep that overarching goal in mind and can create inspiring, authentic and engaging content that resonates with their audience.

What are your tips to maintaining visibility with Facebook’s algorithm changes?

Spotlight Blogger: Brynne with Femme Frugality

Brynne with Femme Frugality

Brynne with Femme Frugality knows that, regardless of how much you earn, you’ve probably felt financial stress at some point in your life. By examining our financial systems, she shares money-management advice, products, events and more to help readers manage their finances — from how to earn money, how to save money and even planning for major life milestones (college, weddings, etc.) on a budget. We love Brynne’s approach to sharing real-life, actionable ideas, and that’s why she’s our February Spotlight Blogger!

We chatted with Brynne to get her thoughts on why she blogs and on the social media marketing industry. Take a look at our Q&A here:

What do you feel is the #1 trend in influencer marketing in 2018?
I’m hearing a lot of bloggers talk about going back to basics—telling their own stories and focusing on community to build traffic rather than focusing primarily on search engines. I think this will be positive for marketing as those stories and communities are what made blogging a great platform for native advertising in the first place.

What content do you feel your readers find most valuable?
My readers tend to engage most with new, fresh earning and savings ideas, and articles that make them think about money issues a little bit deeper. The “same old” tips and tricks you find on every money blog everywhere don’t cut it.

How has your blog changed since you first got started?
I used to focus exclusively on those fresh, actionable earning and savings ideas. As the years have gone on, I’ve published more and more posts around the psychology or philosophy of money. I try to look at the systems that affect our relationship with money and each other, as I’ve realized that without addressing these systems, those actionable tips are only going to get us so far on our path to financial health.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a blog?
Know that it’s a lot of work, and that you won’t get rich quicky. Even if you’re working at it full-force, you’re unlikely to become even marginally profitable until the six- or twelve-month mark.

What trend or platform is on its way out?
For a while, there was a Snapchat frenzy. That seems to have died, but I write primarily for a Millennial and younger Gen Xer audience, so that may be different for those marketing to Gen Z.

What’s your greatest challenge when working with brands?
I love all the brands that have made it onto my blog (and some who haven’t). It can get frustrating when a brand undervalues your platform, time and effort. As much as I may want to work together, if we can’t agree on a fair compensation, I just can’t do it.

What’s your best blogging tip?
Connect with other bloggers. Remember that they’re not your competition—they’re your network. Always lend a helping hand to your blogging community wherever you can and they’ll be more likely to return the favor down the line.

Favorite program you’ve done with The Motherhood?
I’ve genuinely loved them all, so this is a hard pick. I’ve worked repeatedly with Northwood Realty, though, and enjoy that they have so much respect for women in the workplace. Because of that respect, my readers have responded well and engaged positively with the content we’ve put together over the years.

What is your proudest achievement? 
When I look back on my life, my proudest moments are when I’ve been able to make a positive impact on someone else’s life.

Even as a woefully imperfect mother, I’ve been able to advocate for my children and help them reach new milestones. I hope to teach them the skills they need to do this themselves throughout their lives as they age.

As a writer, I’ve helped women fix their credit scoreswork with state governments to get the wedding ceremony of their dreamstravel to great destinations on a dime and given validation and access to seldom-discussed resources that lead to financial empowerment.

The most rewarding thing in my life has been helping others achieve.

What are your three most-used emojis?

😊💞✈

Have a financial question for Brynne? Connect with her on her Facebook page!


More about The Motherhood’s Spotlight Blogger Series

Each month, our internal team convenes and discusses our latest programs, stellar partnerships and top influencers. It’s not about numbers, but rather, the quality, authentic content they’re delivering consistently. It’s about reliability, professionalism and partnership. We discuss our nominations for the month and ultimately decide on just one blogger to feature. Take a look at our other featured influencers here.

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