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Influencer promo guide: Best practices for drug and device firms

In our “Influencer promo guide: Best practices for drug and device firms”, we offered a list of best practices for medical device and pharmaceutical companies interested in taking advantage of the benefits of social media influencers for advertising their products, while adhering to FDA regulations. How can these companies be mindful of FDA rules while partnering with influencers? The below points, pulled from our guide, are tailored to address your most pressing concerns.

Get familiar with the latest FTC disclosure requirements for influencers and marketers.

In 2017, the FTC sent over 90 letters to influencers reminding them to be compliant in their Endorsement Guidelines, which illustrates the FTC’s monitoring of misleading social media advertising. The guidelines require clear and conspicuous disclosure of any relationship between the influencers and the company. Disclosure should tell the full story of the influencer’s connection to the brand in ways that avoid ambiguity, such as a hashtag that says, “#thanks(company’s name). Further, setting a social media post to “sponsored posts” is not sufficient in disclosing the influencer–brand relationship, but adding a “#ad” hashtag constitutes sufficient disclosure.

Brands should be truthful in their advertising when working with social media influencers.

Following from the above point, a staple of the FTC’s disclosure guidelines is truthful advertising. A social media influencer cannot endorse a product he or she has not used, disliked, nor can they make unsubstantiated claims.

Given the high stakes involved in advertising of healthcare products, companies should clarify the terms of their engagement with their influencer in a written contract.

Such a contract protects the company from misleading the public and establishes the company’s expectations for the influencer’s engagement. The contract should include requirements for use of- and content in- sponsored posts, requirements of pre-approval and timing of posts, and requirements of compliance with FDA regulations.

In addition to written contracts with the influencer, the brand should consistently monitor the influencer’s posts for compliance with disclosure requirements.

Even if your company is pre-approving content, it should still implement a system to monitor and ensure FDA  and FTC compliance, as well as consistency with your company’s brand ethos.

Thoroughly vet your influencer.

Your brand tells your company’s story. Having a positive reputation in an increasingly competitive marketplace is crucial, which is why you must select an influencer who is not only authentic to the public, but can grow your brand.

In adhering to these guidelines, a brand can safely take advantage of the benefits of using social media influencers, while not only protecting their IP, but strengthening it, too.

For more information, please contact Julia Anne Matheson.