Last week, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) finished gathering feedback on its Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guide before sending it off to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The guide is meant to help businesses and bloggers comply with the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
The gist of the FTC’s endorsement guidelines is that bloggers and other online influencers must make an effort to reveal any relationship they may have with a marketer when making statements, reviews or endorsements about that marketer’s product or service. Up until now there has been a significant amount of flexibility (and often confusion) regarding how and where these disclosures can be made.
But with the rising influence of social media marketing and its many platforms, there has been a growing movement to make those standards more clear and defined. The need for uniform practices and expectations within the social media marketing industry has never been greater.
If you are blogging for your business and are involved in any B2B endorsements or testimonials, or if you will be working with other bloggers to have them promote your business, then consider the following points:
- Make sure you are clear about which relationships constitute the kind of endorsement or testimonial that would require a disclosure to customers or online visitors.
- Your disclosure should be prominent, accessible, and understandable. You don’t necessarily have to go into to every detail of your relationship with a particular marketer or business (such as the exact amount you will be compensated for any qualified lead), but the specific nature of the relationship should be made clear.
- Make sure you consider all your social media platforms. This includes your Tweets, posts on Facebook, and any statements you may be making on video. This was one of the updates specifically mentioned in WOMMA’s new set of guidelines.
- Finally, make sure that all of your employees, contractors, and business partners are on the same page when it comes to public endorsements. One way to help ensure this is to create a thorough and clear marketing disclosure policy. For your online presence, you may want to take at look at Disclosurepolicy.org. This site has a lot of useful information about disclosure policies as well as a nice tool to help you design your website’s disclosure policy page.