Can You Have Too Much Disclosure?

45 Fremont, #3If you’re speaking with a friend about something you like do you also say, “I use it myself – I can vouch for it”?


But if you’re speaking to that same friend a few days later and you ask how he/she got on with that product, do you again say that you use it yourself? No. Because obviously they know that from your first recommendation.

So how much disclosure is needed when you recommend something online?

Last night Chris Brogan posted a link to his blog post about Hubspot’s new Twitter report. I half-jokingly asked him whether that tweet should mention disclosure, since Hubspot sponsors Chris’s Inbound Marketing Summit.

Chris, being the open guy he is, replied that it was a good question and so went and edited his blog post to mention the sponsorship. It also opened up a good little conversation on Twitter about how much disclosure is needed.

The fact that people joined in the conversation and offered their views on disclosure policies shows that it’s an important topic. People and companies obviously need to be transparent about their dealings, or else it could lead to a slippery slope later on.

Yet there is also the danger that we get sucked in to the whole “disclose, disclose, disclose!” mindset. Yes, we all need to be clear about who our partners or sponsors are. But we also need to temper that with common sense.

If it’s the first mention of a company or sponsor that you work with or have as a client then, yes, full disclosure is needed. But I don’t think you need to keep mentioning it in every single conversation you have from thereon in. You’ve already disclosed and you’re not hiding anything, so you’re good to go (as long as you’re not blatantly pitching something).

You could go one step further and have either a Disclosure page on your blog or website, or a Partners With page. This can then be updated with each new announcement or partnership and keeps everything in the open (thanks to Heather Allard for the hat tip).

The main thing is, disclosure is important and you need to make sure that you’ve covered yourself from any potential backlash. But I don’t think you need to mention relationships in every single thing you mention about that person or company.

How about you? Do you disclose every time, or just initially? Can there be too much disclosure or never enough?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Hawk

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