FTC Updates Sponsorship Guidelines – Are You Breaking the Law? Plus, Threads, TikTok’s Dumb Move and more!

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Description automatically generatedThis Week: New sponsorship laws, pricing trends from 16,000 brand deals, another dumb TikTok monetization scheme and much more! Super excited to welcome Fiverr to Inside the Creator Economy as this week’s sponsor! I’ve used them for lots of things, notably one of their branding experts designed the ICE logo! Hi, I’m Jim and I helped build VidCon, Revision3, PC Magazine and TechTV. It’s the 2nd week of July 2023 and here’s what you need to know!

Ignorance of the Law is NOT an Excuse: The FTC just updated its sponsorship disclosure guidelines for creators and influencers for the first time since 2009. The changes are profound. Just a few highlights. First, you must disclose any sponsorship or conflict clearly and conspicuously in stream. That means posting in the video description, or at the end of a video is not enough. It’s all about placement, readability, and clarity. Also, if you’ve been relying on your platform’s built-in disclosure tool, that is NOT enough. Second, if you end up promoting a deceptive product or service (**ahem** FTX), and you either knew about it or SHOULD have known about it, you are liable. This covers not just creators and brands, but intermediaries too. Third, if you receive free products, trips, or other non-cash benefits you still must disclose. This also applies to hashtags along with other content. Every creator needs to know and adhere to these guidelines. The FTC FAQ is a good place to start. In the end, this is good for creators and brands because it prioritizes trust. Fooling your community can be devastating, because trust is all you have. Think you’re too small to be targeted. Even though the FTC has gone after brands recently, everyone is fair game. Can you afford a $42,000 fine?

The Battle is Joined – Meta Launches Threads: Cage match or no, Threads is here. The new Twitter clone is available widely – except in Europe – and it’s already become a slugfest. Twitter is not amused, threatening to sue Meta, as the app is eerily similar to Twitter (like Bluesky, Notes and all the others). Although 70M users in the first week is huge, but that’s just 5% of Instagram’s MAU. Retention will be the real problem – and we won’t know that for another few months (see Lemon8, no longer in Apple’s top 100). With sustainable success there’s an upside for creators – if only to help boost awareness. But given Meta’s track record in supporting and paying creators, don’t expect any big revshare checks anytime soon (if at all). Significantly, it also signifies the end of social walled gardens, as it’s built around ActivityPub, a distributed open-source protocol. That means you can (soon) decamp with your audience to another platform, which if widely adopted would give creators more ownership of their community. Regular readers know that owning identity on the web is one of my passion topics – here’s an interesting essay exploring why. Also new CEO Linda Yaccarino lays out her plans to turn things around – likely babying a CEO cage-fight was not on the list. Finally, I love this list of Meta’s copycat efforts over the years.

TikTok Creates Another Dumb Monetization Scheme: Apart from their creator marketplace, it seems like much of TikTok’s creator payment “initiatives” are more smoke than fire. The latest dumb idea – “TikTok Creative Challenge”. Creators are encouraged to create free brand videos on spec with the hopes that one will get plucked from the flock. Get plucked and get paid. Not plucked? Then you are (rhymes with plucked). You just provided free labor, creation, editing and inspiration for free. Here’s a question – does the expectation of maybe getting paid mean you have to disclose anytime you talk about that brand, product, or service in the future? I wonder what the FTC would say. Related, it’s not all bad at TikTok, as they enhance their live creator subscription product to include paywalled videos. Ping me if you subscribe to anyone on TikTok!

Sponsorship Pricing Report from the Trenches: FYPM, a glass door for creators, released an eye-opening pricing report for 2023. With self-reported data from mostly smaller TikTok and Instagram creators across 16,000 brand deals from late 2022 to 2023, it’s directional, but legit. Some interesting highlights: First, dollars per follower metrics don’t really matter anymore, with creators under 10,000 seeing nearly 4x the per-follower return compared to those with 50-100k followers. And combo deals with a mix of TikTok and Reels delivered a +50% premium over TikTok or Reels alone – although Reels alone were almost 2x as expensive as TikTok across every follower count. Total deal value has also declined 22%-48% between 2022 and 2023, with the 100-500k group declining the most. And average TikTok brand deal size is down a third – with YouTube and Instagram dropping about half that. Oh, and props to Walmart and brickbats to Javy Coffee for valuing creators higher – and lower respectively – than anyone else. You’ll have to pay $500 for the report, but if you engage with micro and mid-tier short form creators, it’s well worth it.

SPONSOR: Fiverr’s Influencer Program Puts Creators First, with generous compensation, creative freedom, and potential long-term opportunity. 

Fiverr’s Influencer Program offers creators more – including high rates and free Fiverr credits for hundreds of services, so not only you will have the inside scoop on Fiverr, but you’ll also have the confidence to promote something you’ve truly experienced and loved.

Ready to discover what partnering with Fiverr can do for YOUR channel?  Submit your application today!



Tip of the Week: If you aren’t reading (or listening to) Ed Lawrence (Film-Booth)’s weekly newsletter you should. Here’s just a piece of last week’s advice on “How to boss YouTube’s latest algorithm changes focused on viewer satisfaction. First, manage your anxiety – stop checking your user counts and views in the middle of the night. And then focus your videos on simple storytelling and getting your viewers to feel something. If you aren’t activating emotions, then you’re less likely to deliver satisfaction.

Thanks for reading and see you around the internet. Send me a note with your feedback, or post in the comments! Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here!

If you’re interested in working together as a sponsor to reach the leaders in the creator economy, check out Inside the Creator’s sponsorship packages and/or email me at jim@louderback.com

And don’t forget to listen to The Creator Feed – the weekly podcast Renee Teeley and I produce – get it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher! This week we unpack the FTC guidelines and much more!

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