If you have an Instagram account with thousands of followers, is it legal to accept money from a product in exchange for featuring them in a post? Is it okay for you to pay a blogger for publishing a positive post about your business? In the U.S., enforcing advertising laws and regulations — and answering questions like those — is the responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Below, we’ve collected links to several resources from the FTC that provide guidelines for small businesses related to advertising laws and regulations. By the way, here are the answers to the questions about paid posts on Instagram and blogs: It’s legal, but only if it is disclosed clearly to the reader or user that the post is a paid sponsorship. 

Three basic “truth in advertising” guidelines

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair

Additional laws apply to ads for specialized products like consumer leases, credit, ads with a 900 telephone number, and products sold through mail order or telephone sales. State and local governments also regulate advertising, and enforcement is usually the responsibility of a state attorney general, a consumer protection agency or a local district attorney.

Resources and guides to help a small business comply with federal advertising laws

General Information

Pricing Rules

Endorsements and Testimonials

State and Local Advertising Laws

Individual states and some localities have also passed specific truth-in-advertising laws. The Consumer Action Handbook

Provides links to state and local agencies responsible for enforcing truth-in-advertising and related consumer protection laws.

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How to Legally Use Endorsements, Reviews & Testimonies in Your Marketing

A roundup of U.S. laws and regulations that guide what you can, and cannot do, when it comes to using endorsements from customers, fans or spokespeople in your marketing activities.