WOMMA has been all over the social media marketing issues related to transparency and disclosure. We’ve held open discussions on the Living Ethics blog, hosted webinars, shared legal perspective, and delivered panel presentations at conferences. And now we have issued a GUIDE TO DISCLOSURE IN SOCIAL MEDIA.
The issue of ethical word of mouth marketing has taken on new prominence given the rise of social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Many brands and agencies are designing word of mouth marketing programs to foster relationships with online influencers.
To foster these relationships, brands and agencies will sometimes give bloggers material compensation (loaner product, free services, in-kind gifts, and special access privileges) and/or actual compensation (cash) in exchange for talking online about a product/service a business provides. For such testimonials and endorsements, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now requiring marketers and bloggers to be 100% transparent in disclosing any material relationship between the two.
At the most basic level, if there is a relationship between a blogger and a brand that might affect the credibility of an endorsement; such a connection must be adequately disclosed. This act of disclosure protects both consumers and advertisers because it assures consumers that testimonials are truthful and trustworthy, and it offers marketers a proven way to reach audiences with credible information. The matter of disclosure is vital because word of mouth works best when it is 100% credible.
While the WOMMA Ethics Code, updated most recently in September 2009, is compliant with everything the FTC is now requiring from marketers and bloggers, our member companies have asked for more specific guidance as it relates to adequately displaying disclosure online.
BEST PRACTICE GUIDANCE
WOMMA’S GUIDE TO DISCLOSURE IN SOCIAL MEDIA was written and vetted by a cadre of industry leaders, WOMMA members, non-members, academics, and social media participants. This guidebook details how and where to make online disclosure clear and prominent. It also outlines the responsibilities of marketers and bloggers to ensure adequate disclosure happens.
Key online platforms covered in this Disclosure Guide include: Blogs, Online Comments, Twitter, Social Networks, Video Sharing websites, Photo Sharing websites, and Podcasts.
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