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Friday, October 23, 2009

New FTC Rules Aim to Keep Bloggers Honest

New FTC rules on social media content go into effect December 1. For the most part, the new rules are aimed at protecting the consumer from reading a blog, for example, about a product that presents itself as an editorial, when the "blogger" has been paid to promote the product and/or has been given the product for free.

That's a good thing, right? Yes, but it does create a few things every marketer must consider --whether they run a blog and/or promote their products on blogs or other social media sites (such as Twitter).

The main crux behind the new rule is this...when endorsing a product or service (in a blog, tweet, etc.), you must:

1. Disclose when you are being compensated--whether you are being paid for the endorsement and/or have been give free sample of the product (traditionally known as "not-for-resale" copies).

2. Be truthful in your statements, and make sure they can be substantiated.

3. Speak from actual experience -- meaning you can't just regurgitate the sponsor's marketing speak if it isn't an actual experience, opinion, or belief of your own.

And the fine for not doing so? 11,000 big ones, as in dollars.

Really, most legitimate marketers already follow #2 and #3, but they should now be much more diligent in making sure nothing slips through. The biggest change is the disclosure requirement -- so make sure your social media efforts now have these new rules on the operations checklist (whether you are the blogger or the product company promoting through 3rd party blogs). It's the law!

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