FTC Guidelines for Social Media

In March of 2013, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released the first update to the .com Disclosures guide, which illustrates how to make effective disclosures in digital advertising.

1. The FTC requires disclosure and truthfulness in social media. This applies to traditional online advertising (e.g. banner ads) and to individuals solicited by brands to share information on social media on the brand’s behalf. For instance, a blogger review campaign. Product or coupon-codes count as compensation.

2. Companies are responsible for monitoring conversation about their brand and correcting misstatements. For example, if a brand has recruited people to share information on the brand’s behalf, it is the brand’s responsibility to monitor it and ensure statements are accurate. The FTC will hold the company accountable. E.g. All bloggers must disclose that they are working for a brand, and the brand must ensure bloggers are disclosing that information.

3. Companies must create social media policies and training programs to educate employees on the proper usage of social media.

Suggestions for Disclosure

1. When working with bloggers, provide a statement that they can use for disclosure in their post:

I work for [CLIENT] and participated in [X] program/campaign. I received [X] for this review, however this is my personal, honest opinion based on my experience.

2. Develop a social media policy and implement it in HR programs.

3. Ensure everything you are developing in your social media marketing is truthful and accurate.

Check out more information the FTC web site, which shares more details about the guidelines and current case reports on companies/situations in violation.