This deck discusses best practices in social media ethics and tips for complying with the FTC's Guidelines to Testimonials and Endorsements. Much of the content is rooted in the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's ethical code.
FTC revised its Guides to Testimonials & Endorsements in late 2009. Goal is to eliminate deception by ensuring its clear to everyday people when a testimonial / blog / review / tweet is a corporate-sourced endorsement.
It came out that bloggers could be fined up to $11K / violation. This lit up the blogosphere.
FTC responded, ensuring bloggers they were safe, but needed to make a few adjustments if they are empanelled as part of a marketing program.
Everyone would agree with this.
Gets a little more vague but still reasonably clear.
Vagueness dominates. What if the review was “neutral” … would that be considered an endorsement, would that need to be disclosed? How do you quantify “various”?
Real world example: If CNET reviews product, most people would assume the publication received a free sample, no disclosure needed.
But let’s say the review runs on a blog, NOW does it need to be disclosed?
Or let’s say the CNET reviewer mentions it in her own Twitter stream. NOW is disclosure mandated? In the real world, disclosure requires sound personal judgement, informed by the letter AND spirit of the FTC guides.
Performance claims are the most under-reported aspect of the guides, but it’s an immensely important consideration for marketers, especially those in the health, diet and personal care industries.
Message to marketers: if you let the bull out of the barn, you are responsible for what the bull does.
Message to publishers: your blog (or lifestream) = an advertisement (in certain circumstances)
Some instances of social media ethics are black & white
Case study: Reverb & FTC
Most of the time, social media ethics is a “shades of gray” discussion.
Case study: Ann Taylor
Case study: Kim Kardashian / Carl’s JR.
The $11K question
Another viable model: CMP.ly
Next wave of debate? Contests, geosocial, and transactional buttons with no “disclosure field” (e.g., Facebook Like buttons)
Eloqua Social Media Ethics
Social Media Ethics
Director of Content, Eloqua
Co-chair WOMMA Member Ethics Advisory Panel
You must disclose client relationships
A Note to Agencies / Content Partners
Don’t request a positive review
Don’t demand the removal of negative review
Don’t “favorite” negative tweets about competitor
Don’t “vulture” for leads on Twitter
Don’t forget that clients/employers = material relationship
A Few More Ethical Best Practices