The FTC and You

Are you sifting through the new FTC compliance rules for social engagement and trying to figure out what it all means? Really it is all about common sense. If you think about it, the rules are simply designed to keep us transparent as we craft new marketing strategies using social engagement and Voice of the Customer (VOC).

Tom Chernaik with CMP.LY and Suzanne Fanning from WOMMA facilitated a great webinar last week breaking down the FTC guidelines. WOMMA members can find additional information here. We saw some great examples of how to apply the new rules appropriately – as well what NOT to do. At the end of the day it is all about disclosure. Let me break down the major takeaways:

Do:

  • Ensure that there is language in your social media policies that cover your social programs and is understood by your employees and agencies.

 

  • Understand that all channels your customers or influencers use to amplify messaging and content need to have disclosures about your relationship with them. The good thing here is that you can use “common sense” language and links to disclosure content that are “clear and concise”.

 

  • Monitor your program participants to ensure they use the appropriate language and links on a regular basis. If they don’t comply send them a direct communication as a reminder of the rules. If they still don’t comply you need to remove them from the program. Ensure you document everything along the way.

 

  • Think ahead. If you are running a contest or promotion, have a plan thought through for gaming or beating the system prior to launch. You need clear rules to address and communicate potential manipulation upfront; otherwise you run the risk of disqualifying everyone.

 

Don’t

  • Hide a paid relationship (this could include both monetary compensation to a customer, spokesperson, and/or paid employee).

 

  • Use a platform/social channel if its limitations prevent you from demonstrating disclosure on it.

 

  • Assume that your audience understands the nature of the relationship.

 

  • Change the rules of a contest or promotion mid-way through.

 

CMP.LY reminded us to use the “3 Ms”:

1. Mandate a disclosure policy that complies with the law

2. Make sure people who work for you or with you know what the rules are

3. Monitor what they’re doing on your behalf

Ethical and transparent marketing is the heart of social engagement. Keep in mind that failure to practice this discipline will leave your brand or agency at risk.

What do you anticipate the biggest compliance challenge will be?

Jennifer Voisard
Jennifer Voisard

Senior Consultant

A social marketing specialist with expertise in advocate identification and engagement, social monitoring programs, content process, online communities and social performance metrics and analysis.

Experience across multiple industries including technology, professional services, manufacturing, consumer products, healthcare and entertainment.

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