New blogger legislation from the Federation Trade Commission in America will come into effect from 1st of December. Stripped to it’s bare bones, it translates to a law of transparency on blogs, and the onus is heavily placed on bloggers to disclose ‘freebies’, otherwise known Stateside as ‘payola’. Bloggers have until now stayed free from such endorsement rules, leaving it to the conscience of the individual blogger to decide whether they declare a kick-back.
For many ‘hobby bloggers’, this sounds really scary, but in fact, I think it’s going to make for an easier blogging life should the same legislation come to the UK. Speaking specifically about beauty blogs, it offers us a protection against the rumour mill that is so quickly sparked among beauty bloggers – if we are all on an enforced level playing field freebie wise it will put a stop to any wondering or questioning. The US legislation is actually quite loose, with no specific rulings on how any declarations should be made. I suggest that starting a review with ‘I was sent this bottle of X to try’ should be enough, but in the case of any posts where the reviewer has accepted something other than just product (i.e. money), it needs to be clearly labelled as a ‘sponsored post’.
Remembering that beauty blogging is fast becoming a first stop for those looking for honest reviews about beauty products before making the step to purchase is paramount: flagging that your review is sponsored gives clarity to potential consumers. If your reputation is to be honest and clear in your reviews, then a sponsored review should be viewed as nothing more than advert; it’s then up to readers to decide whether or not they want to read it or engage with it.
It’s up to each individual beauty blog whether they want to make their time consuming hobby pay back: beauty brands are sitting up and taking notice of us: we – and our readers – are offering the purest and most valuable consumer feedback they’ll ever get, and we are beginning to have a powerful voice. If reader comments and blogger reviews are negative, it is really then up to the brand to say, ‘well, maybe our product isn’t good enough,’ so we shouldn’t be shy of posting less than glowing reviews if it is our real opinion. That’s where honesty pays and bloggers start to make a real difference. In my view, commercialising blogs will become the norm, and this is when a clear cut policy and un-woolly legislation will be our friend. Just keep your voice clear and your ethics unwavering and remember that cream rises. It is only a matter of time before we have the same legislations in the UK, so let’s be ready in advance of the fact.
UPDATE: A couple of comments left are very pertinent – GreatSheElephant advises that unless you know your webhost is in UK, it’s possible we fall under this legislation anyway, and Grooming Guru asks why magazines and newspapers don’t have to comply as well. Good point, God of Grooming.
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