FTC plans to crack down on forms of social media marketing
As part of its review of its advertising guidelines, the FTC is proposing that word-of-mouth marketers and bloggers, as well as people on social-media sites such as Facebook, be held liable for any false statements they make about a product they're promoting, along with the product's marketer. This could present a significant issue for marketers, including the likes of Microsoft, Ford and Pepsi, who spend billions on word-of-mouth and social media. PQ Media projects that marketers will spend $3.7 billion on word-of-mouth marketing in 2011.
This will definitely have an impact on marketers that send products to influential bloggers/social media users for review, which is currently a common practice.
- If you send a product to a blogger for review, encourage them to post their candid thoughts. Don't push for a positive review.
- Encourage the blogger to disclose within the post that you sent them the product.
- If you participate in any sort of pay-per-post activity (i.e. paying the blogger for a review), be 100 percent transparent about this fact. Chris Brogan wrote an excellent post about the issue, and advertising and trust in general.