Responsibly Utilizing Social Media – Today and Moving Forward
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New regulations in social media are affecting your social media campaigns; are you prepared to responsibly enforce these regulations? In this whitepaper, we will discuss the November FDA hearings and ...

New regulations in social media are affecting your social media campaigns; are you prepared to responsibly enforce these regulations? In this whitepaper, we will discuss the November FDA hearings and how they affect your promotions and the way you use social media. We will also address the FTC regulations and Facebook contest regulations.

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Responsibly Utilizing Social Media – Today and Moving Forward Document Transcript

  • 1. Responsibly Utilizing Social Media – Today and Moving Forward New regulations in social media are affecting your social media campaigns; are you prepared to responsibly enforce these regulations? In this whitepaper, we will discuss the November FDA hearings and how they affect your promotions and the way you use social media. We will also address the FTC regulations and Facebook contest regulations. The FTC regulations are primarily targeted at bloggers who are compensated for giving paid reviews- typically in exchange for money or gifts. According to Leonard Gordon, with the FTC, the agency wants to enforce the same level of accountability it enforces in traditional marketing and advertising for claims made on Twitter, a blog or via any social network. Bloggers may still review and endorse products, even for a fee, but they should disclose any paid relationship to a brand or product. The issue here becomes how the FTC will enforce these regulations. Must you disclose your relationship to a brand EACH time you tweet about it? What are the consequences if you do not follow these new regulations to a tee? So, do these regulations influence you directly? Ask yourself these questions: 1. Are consumers likely to understand the relationship between you and the brand? 2. Do you receive cash, goods or services by the brand, its agency or affiliates? 3. Do you have an ongoing relationship with the brand? Have you received compensation in the past? Do you expect compensation in the future? 4. Do you provide product or service reviews at the request of the brand, to a targeted market? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you should be enforcing the new regulations. For bloggers, the first critical takeaway from these regulations is to be honest. “White text on white background” disclosures do not count; be transparent and reveal any ties to the brand. Furthermore, endorsements must be made on real experiences. The second takeaway for bloggers is to earn your media. When you are covering a brand, don’t ask for or expect free samples or compensation. This is not required of a brand or product, and your endorsement can be misleading if you are requesting free samples and/or compensation. If you are approached by a brand, consider politely refusing compensation and covering the product or service on your own. Finally, if you do accept compensation, be honest in your review, stick to the guidelines set forth by the brand, and take pains to maintain transparency and accuracy for the reader. Finally, as a blogger, your role is to educate. Let brands know that due to FTC guidelines, you must either over communicate the status of the relationship, or you must refuse future compensation. It is important to make your readers aware that paid reviews are paid, and you are acting on behalf of a company. In addition, be sure to let your readers know when reviews are unpaid. However, keep in mind that a paid review can be authentic, too!
  • 2. On the other hand, if you are the brand, you also have several key takeaways from the new regulations. Your first takeaway is also to be honest. When you are promoting a product or service with bloggers, you must be transparent in all communications. Do not forget you are responsible for claims made by the bloggers you reach out to, so be sure to choose your influencers carefully. Make your intentions clear to bloggers, and ensure they are honestly representing your brand. If you find mistakes, or bloggers who are not ethically following the FTC regualations, be sure to address the issue. As the brand, according the the FTC regulations, you should focus heavily on providing a great product or service, and find creative ways to inform influencers about it. Your goal as a brand should be to try to think like a public relations/media relations professional. Consider this: how how many bloggers do you think Apple, Facebook, YouTube or Google pay? Finally, as the brand, you also need to educate. Clearly educate your bloggers on your social media policy and insist that bloggers are transparent. You have to provide as many details as possible about your product, service and brand to ensure the blogger can honestly represent your product and image. It is extremely important to monitor each blogger regularly and ensure your image is upheld. Of course, like the blogger, you must also remember that a paid review can be authentic. In addition to FTC regulations, Facebook recently implemented rules for hosting contests on Facebook. The rules were added to indemnify Facebook from “contests-gone-bad.” A proliferation of Facebook contests may imply Facebook’s approval to use the platform as a contest tool. It is your job to create a public stance from Facebook regarding contests, and avoid spam on status updates and news feeds. The new Facebook rules require contests be approved by Facebook in writing 7 days prior to launch. Contests must clearly state that Facebook is not associated with the contest; contest promotions must be contained within their own application, and entries can only be accepted via the applications (i.e., no more entering by becoming a fan or posting a comment). All contest administration must occur outside of Facebook. This makes a dramatic difference in some brands’ social media contests- how can you execute an effective contest now? You should host the content and promotions for your contest outside of Facebook. Use Facebook as one tool to connect with your “opt-in” market. If you still choose to host your contest on Facebook, consider using an Internet marketing or contest/sweepstakes company that has experience with Facebook to ensure compliance. The FTC regulations, as well as the Facebook contest rules, are sure to affect our social media campaigns. However, if you follow these rules appropriately, you can ensure lawful, responsible campaigns and continued success for your blog, brand or product. If you have further questions about the new social media regulations, please visit our site at www.webbedmarketing.com, or contact us at info@webbedmarketing.com.