Ethical blogging – UK Bloggers

While we love helping to forge meaningful ties between bloggers and brands, we want to make sure that we’re always promoting ethical blogging and encouraging our bloggers to be transparent with their readers about any commercial or sponsored relationships.

Our assignments may contain opportunities which involve the receiving of products for review (which you may be able to keep), the offer of complimentary services, free trips or event tickets, or some sort of financial renumeration, in exchange for publishing a piece of written or photographic content on your blog.

How you keep things above board is an ever evolving topic, but with the growing level of influence that bloggers are having over consumer decision-making and purchases, it makes sense that you fully disclose any incentive or payment that you’ve received as part of a written review.

In the UK, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned that not disclosing paid-for promotional content, on a blog or microblogging platform like Twitter, constitutes deceptive practice under fair trading laws.

Similarly, it advises brands “not to engage in promotional activity unless bloggers within its network prominently disclose, in a manner unavoidable to the average consumer, that the promotion has been paid for or otherwise remunerated.”

The OFT explains, “The integrity of information published online is crucial so that people can make informed decisions on how to spend their money. We expect online advertising and marketing campaigns to be transparent so consumers can clearly tell when blogs, posts and microblogs have been published in return for payment or payment in kind. We expect this to include promotions for products and services as well as editorial content.”

So what does this mean for bloggers in the UK?

There are some simple steps that we recommend you follow, to ensure you’re being ethical in your blogging.

  • If you’ve received payment or incentive for a blog post, always disclose your interests. This will ensure that your readers know it is a marketing communication. An easy way to do this is to include a statement within the body of your post which says something along these lines: “This product was provided to me free of charge from the company in order to review it. However the opinions expressed in this review are independent and my own.”
  • Make sure you are following the appropriate terms and conditions of the social media platform or website that you are using in relation to promoting a product or service.
  • If you have been paid to write a sponsored post and have been asked to include a hyperlink within it, which links through to the brand you are working with, this should have the ‘nofollow’ attribute.
  • If you have an ongoing relationship with a sponsor, describe the terms of it in a post or disclosure page and link back to this in all related posts.
  • Clearly label advertising, advertorials and/or sponsored posts. This includes tweets on Twitter that are paid for (the IAB advises you use the hashtag #ad).
  • If you have been asked to write a review of a product or service, adhere to best practice by always writing honestly about your observations and experience. Don’t let payments or incentives sway your judgement or opinion.
  • Don’t be tempted to pay for social media followers. This is unethical and not something we endorse.

At the end of the day, this is all just common sense. As the blogging landscape changes, these guidelines are likely to evolve, so please continue to watch this space. We will do our best to keep you informed of new developments, and please feel free to share tips or advice with us too.

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