4 Tips to Avoid FTC Scrutiny on Social Media

John Nadolenco and Zachariah DeMeola
Marketing News Exclusives
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Key Takeaways
  • ​Pay attention to the connection between a product, the references to that product, and exactly who is creating content regarding that product on social media.
  • Make sure that bloggers or reviewers who have a connection with your company disclose that connection.  
  • Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions or experience of the endorser. 

Social media allows for an impressive variety of dynamic and interactive marketing that—before the dawn of the social Web—was unimaginable for most brands. Social media interaction generates content of is own, and using this content for marketing has strong appeal—​after all, according to Nielsen, nearly four in five active Internet users visit social networks and blogs, and 70% of social media users hear others’ experiences at least once a month. Companies that leverage user-generated content gain authenticity and the credibility of personal relationships, but using social media comes with some risk to marketers. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces laws against delivering false and misleading information to consumers through marketing. In 2013, the FTC updated its social media guidelines for the use of testimonials and gifts in advertising. Regarding testimonials, if the advertiser doesn’t have proof that the endorser’s experience represents what consumers will achieve by using the product, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected results in the depicted circumstances. As for gifts, if there is a connection between the endorser and the marketer that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.  

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Author Bio:

 
John Nadolenco and Zachariah DeMeola
John Nadolenco (jnadolenco@mayerbrown.com) is a partner and Zachariah DeMeola (zdemeola@mayerbrown.com) is an associate at global legal services firm Mayer Brown. Both are litigation and dispute resolution lawyers in the firm's Los Angeles office and have extensive experience helping companies draft social media policies.