Influencer GuidelinesEffective Date: 11/15/2022
Purpose and Scope
Best Buy is committed to transparency and honesty in all its advertising and marketing efforts. Testimonials and endorsements are an increasingly important advertising and marketing tool. These take the form of product reviews, videos, social media posts, or other promotional content. For clarification, an endorser is generally a celebrity, or a person well-known in a specific field that promotes a product or service; while a testimonial is usually a non-celebrity customer that has used a product or service. Both may be known as influencers (hereinafter, “Influencers”) and what they say and how they communicate may be persuasive with consumers. Best Buy requires that all Influencers follow these Influencer Guidelines (the “Influencer Guidelines”) when blogging, tweeting, posting on social media, reviewing products or services, or otherwise publishing content about Best Buy’s products or services. The Influencer Guidelines also apply to all agencies, independent contractors, speakers, writers, bloggers, talent, Influencers, all internal teams utilizing Influencers and any other individual or entity engaged in promotional communications on behalf of Best Buy in all advertising channels: online, on social media and on Best Buy’s sales channels.
Influencer marketing is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”). Best Buy and Influencers have a responsibility to follow the FTC Endorsement Guides, Best Buy’s policies, guidelines, and requirements (the “Policies”) and applicable laws. The Influencer Guidelines will help explain the responsibilities and identify best practices that both Best Buy and Influencers should follow to comply with the law. The FTC’s concerns include disclosing a material connection between Influencer and advertisers, truthful and non-misleading statements, and Influencers being bona fide users with substantiated results.
Influencers must disclose if there is a sponsorship, incentive, compensation, or any relationship between themselves and the advertiser (a “Material Connection”). The FTC requires disclosure of the Material Connection because it allows the consumer to weigh the credibility of the Influencer considering their statement or experience and their connection to the advertiser. A Material Connection can include payment, free product, or a family or employee relationship with the advertiser.
A Material Connection is created in many ways. Generally, Best Buy giving anything in return for an Influencer statement creates a Material Connection that would require disclosure. Employees automatically have a Material Connection to Best Buy because they are employed by Best Buy and, therefore, always have a responsibility to disclose their Material Connection and follow all other Best Buy Policies, like the Social Media Policy. Best Buy encourages both in written description or post to add hashtags to disclose the Material Connection, such as: #ad, #sponsored, #BestBuyAmbassador, #BestBuyEmployee, #BestBuypartner, or #BestBuyendorser.
Disclosure of a Material Connection can be done in many ways, but the FTC requires that it is clear, conspicuous, and in close proximity to the Influencer’s statement. Disclosures should not be buried behind links, require click-through, within terms and conditions, or in bios. Additionally, when posting on social media platforms, disclosures should not be within a “more” button or below the fold of the top half of the post. Disclosures should be easy to find and easily understood.
Best practices with Material Connection disclosures within the post begin with:
- I received free product from Best Buy…
- I was paid by Best Buy…
- I have partnered with Best Buy…
- I am an employee of Best Buy…
Influencers may only make statements that reflect their honest beliefs, opinions, or experience with Best Buy’s products and services. These statements must be backed by evidence or substantiation and reflect a typical experience that a consumer would also expect to receive. This is especially important with weight loss claims, while an Influencer may have lost 50 lbs. with a product, it must be disclosed that the average consumer would expect to lose 1-3 lbs. a week if that were what the average consumer would expect to lose.
As an important note to remember, Influencers are speaking on behalf of Best Buy and cannot say anything that Best Buy itself could not say, even if it is of the opinion of that Influencer. All statements must be honest, truthful, and non-misleading.
For example, an Influencer should not say, “I think this is the lightest phone on the market.” This statement could only be said if it was true that the phone was the lightest, this is measurable and an objective specification of the phone. Alternatively, an Influencer may say, “I like this phone because it is light and fits easily in my pocket.”
The FTC makes clear that both advertisers and Influencers are responsible for following advertising laws and make a reasonable effort to fix disclosure problems and identify any fake, false, or misleading content. Therefore, Best Buy business owners making use of Influencers have a responsibility to regularly monitor their Influencer content at least once per quarter with spot checks. For record-keeping purposes, the spot check needs to include the names of Influencers checked, date of spot check, the violation or issue (if any), and record any remediation (if any). Failure to comply with the Influencer Guidelines and Best Buy Policies could result in an Influencer being removed from a program and rejection or deletion of content where there is a Material Connection at Best Buy’s sole discretion.
For agency and direct campaigns, Best Buy requires Influencers to sign the Acknowledgement Form and have an ongoing responsibility to comply with the terms and guidelines set forth in the Influencer Guidelines and other Policies.
What NOT to do
- Forget to mention a Material Connection or business relationship. This is something that the FTC takes very seriously. In fact, failure to disclose is one of the best ways to get yourself fined. Not only that, but the brands themselves are liable for penalties anytime an Influencer fails to properly disclose their Material Connection or business relationships. What this means is that anyone who benefits from a business relationship is liable when that relationship is not disclosed.
- Obscure the Material Connection disclosure. The FTC has made it very clear that disclosures of a Material Connection and other business relationships must be done in a manner that it cannot be missed. For example, in the case of a sponsored video that is longer than a few minutes, it is wise for the Influencer to mention the sponsorship at various points throughout the video. This way, anyone who watches only part of the video is more likely to see that the video has been sponsored.
- Assume that people know about your relationships. Many Influencers have multiple lines of business. They may also have friends and family who work for specific brands, and this is not generally something that would be known by everyone who consumes their content. For that reason, it is critical that Influencers disclose any relevant business relationships anytime they produce content on behalf of someone with whom they have those relationships. This includes employers, family employers, friendships, and so on.
Instead, do this:
- Make sure that you disclose everything. This way, you cannot be accused of hiding important information from consumers, and the FTC is unlikely to fine Best Buy or the Influencer.
- Make any disclosures prominently within each post or video that you make.
- Ensure that your disclosure is clear. Using confusing or ambiguous language is playing with fire FTC-wise.
- Only endorse things that you have worked with yourself. For example, if you endorse a beauty product, you must have used the product at some point.
- Engage exclusively with products and services that you can honestly recommend. Otherwise, you may be liable by saying that something is excellent when you dislike it.