On Dec 1, the FTC regulations regarding aspects of social media went into effect. First of all this is a good thing (not that regulations are good). It demonstrates that the era of social media has not only arrived but is a main part of business marketing and communications.
The FTC ruling is entitled “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. The ruling is mainly directed to online media and specifically blogging. The aim of the ruling is to provide consumer protection that is found in traditional advertising media.
Some aspects of the ruling:
• Full disclosure by bloggers, on their blog posts, when they are either receiving compensation or free products by organizations whose products or services are discussed in the blog posting.
• If a company or advertising agency provides a blogger or other online commenter with incentives the online comments will be treated legally as endorsements
• If you provide incentives to a community of “preferred users” who blog about your product or service, you may be liable for any misleading statements made by the blogger
• For customer organizations, if one of your employees receives an evaluation sample and lets say free tickets to a Magic game and the employee evaluates the sample product as one of your employees, you may be liable for any statement (positive or negative) made by the employee.
A best practice guideline is to now treat company-initiated social media and blog posts as official corporate communications. Thus it becomes imperative that all social media marketing activities of an organization come together under one policy.
Thus Social Media, previously unregulated, now is regulated.