On Your Side
Bloggers aren't the only ones making money by posting online
Amy Polletro is a beso.com rewards member, and has a passion for fashion.
"My friends and family come to me for style inspiration and recommendations," Polletro says.
Now, she's found a way to use her talent to make a little money. All she has to do is post pictures of clothes she finds on beso.com to her social media accounts, like Facebook and Pinterest.
Elise Loehnen is with beso.com. She explains, "As you share your finds and your friends and followers click, you share in our monetization engines. You make money."
Beso is just one of a booming number of businesses compensating people for promoting products. While companies used to count on thousands of bloggers to post reviews or share links that earn them commission, now anyone who is social media savvy can sign up and cash in.
"In the first few weeks with the rewards program I've made about $6.70," Polletro says.
It's possible to make a lot more! With so many people now being paid to refer products, the Federal Trade Commision, or FTC, is voicing concern. Is your friend sharing that picture and link because she loves that dress, or because she loves the idea of making a little cash?
Mary Engle of the FTC warns, "It's critical that the readers understand that they're being paid because you always want to know if there's any potential bias and you want to add that to the credibility or weight that you give that recommendation."
The FTC already has guidelines in place. Bottom line: Any paid post must clearly be identified. On social media, that typically means using a # followed by words such as 'paid', 'ad', or 'spon' for sponsored. The problem? Many consumers have no idea these rules exist.
"When you set up the links you don't have to let your friends know that you're getting paid for it. I'm just an average person. I'm not a super blogger. I'm not a celebrity," Polletro says.
Engle says actually, you do, no matter who you are. "If you're being paid or compensated in some way to endorse or recommend a product, no matter where that is, no matter what the medium, what kind of site it is, there needs to be a disclosure."
While Beso says there's debate over whether sharing pictures you choose is the same as being hired to write a review, it still suggests its users add hashtags. "It's almost like a huge ocean wave that's coming and there's going to be more and more programs like this and i'm not sure how the FTC is really going to be able to sort of keep a handle on it."
Amy says she sees this as a fun hobby and knows she won't be getting rich doing this.
"If you're going to do it anyways and it's something fun that you're sharing with your friends, I don't see anything wrong with it, getting rewarded for sharing your ideas and driving traffic to these web sites," she exclaims.
Whose job is it anyway to monitor the disclosure? That's another hotly debated topic. In the past, it's the companies promoting the products and the public relations firms who were investigated by the FTC.