In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission revised its Endorsement Guidelines to include social media. What is said on blogs and social networking sites now is not just a matter of ethics, it is the law. The revised guidelines focus on three areas:
1) Endorsements must be truthful and not misleading
2) If the advertiser doesn’t have proof that the endorser’s experience represents what consumers will achieve by using the product, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected results in the depicted circumstances; and
3) If there’s a connection between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.
As a marketing manager it is your responsibility to protect your company from all of the legal implications of social media. This is best done by establishing a social media policy and by ensuring that all internal departments involved in social media as well as external agencies, consultants and contractors are aware of the policies.
Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help.
SocialMedia.org recently updated its Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit, which includes a series of checklists to help marketers formulate a social media policy.
In addition to publishing the Endorsement Guidelines, the FTC also published a document which covers commonly asked questions about the guidelines.
View the video for a quick overview.
Do you have a question concerning disclosure or developing a social media policy? Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.