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FTC Targets Social Media Marketers with Guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just announced a significant update to their FAQ page regarding the endorsement requirements, and it appears to be focused on how people are using social media for marketing.  This is the first update they have made since 2010, and many expect them to begin cracking down on social media marketers who aren’t in full compliance.

If, for example, you hire celebrities or other influential people to post about your brand, you will want to make sure you take some time to closely look at the updated FAQ.  If you hold any type of contest, or anything that could be perceived as a contest, this update will likely impact you as well.

The FTC has always said that any relationship between all brands and all endorsers on social media must be, “clearly and conspicuously” disclosed.  With the update, however, they are providing a much more detailed set of rules.  The update is apparently because of how much the social media world has changed since the previous update over five years ago.

Some people even think that the FTC may be looking for a way to crack down on fake ‘likes’ on Facebook.  It would be impossible to require a disclosure every time a celebrity or other influential person likes a page, but nobody would deny that fake Facebook likes can be quite influential in marketing.  There is no specific information as to what they would do to combat this issue, but the wording on their FAQ is vague enough to make many people worry.

Even Twitter users need to start thinking about what they will do.  Just because there is a limit of 140 characters doesn’t mean you don’t have to disclose that the tweet is sponsored.  Many people are using the #ad or #sponsored hash tags to let people know, and at least for now this seems like it is acceptable for the FTC.  If you’re not using one of these tags, however, consider yourself warned by the FTC that they may be cracking down soon.

If you use social media marketing, these updates should be something you’re concerned about.  Take the time to read them HERE and see how they can impact your business.

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Pesach Lattin

Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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