I see an awful lot of chatter in the book blogosphere around the importance of FTC disclosure for book reviews, so why aren’t we setting the same standards for the sponsored content floating around?
I limit the disclosure on my review posts to noting the source of each book. We all know that ARCs don’t have value and I’m not being paid for my reviews, which are the two requirements for the FTC guidelines. I let my readers know the source of my books in interest of transparency but, as Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness discussed in her great post about Blogging for Books versus Blogging Because of Books, I think that centering language on an “exchange” is problematic and pushes books closer to being payments for reviews.
I do, however, think the disclosure rules should apply to posts that do clearly fall under the guidelines. And this is where I think we’re letting things fall through the cracks, my dear bloggers. Sponsored content, whether it’s paid in pure cash or nice products, has been pretty standard in other corners of the blogosphere for a long time and seems to be working its way into book blogging. I don’t see anything wrong with sponsored posts, if they’re noted as such, but I’ve seen some content over the past few months that has me a little worried.
Back in June, Kelly from Stacked Books wrote a post On Blogging, Responsibility and Content Ownership that touched on the topic after a fallout over sponsorship in the BookTube community. The major issue with BookTube was sponsored reviews, which hasn’t bled over to blogging as far as I can tell. Recently, though, I’ve noticed a pretty significant uptick in sponsored posts that hide disclosures and even a few I suspect aren’t disclosing at all. Is everyone doing this? Absolutely not. There are some great sponsored pieces with fantastic, clearly marked content. But I’ve also seen a few that scream payment with nothing noted.
I’m not aiming to point out anyone specific, but I do think it’s important to think about. If you don’t feel fully comfortable with a sponsored post or want to hide affiliation for fear it won’t be read, it will be clear to your readers and likely isn’t worth the money. FTC aside, many of us are proud of the fact that our reviews reflect our own opinions; don’t we owe it to our readers to clarify if we’re sharing something outside that framework?
How do you feel about sponsored posts? Have you noticed posts that hide disclosure or seem to be dodging it?