It looks like the time has come for the government to have their say in the phenomenon that is social media, and they are doing it in a big way.
The Federal Trade Commission brought the whip down! For the first time since 1980, they revised the “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” by requiring bloggers and other word of mouth advertisers to disclose when they are being paid to review products. And by “other word of mouth marketers”, they mean Facebook and Twitter, too. Not including disclosure means more than just a warning or a slap on the wrist; it can mean a nice $11,000 fine. Ouch.
Luckily for us, we have always put an emphasis on honest and openness, following the WOMMA Ethics Code. From the get-go, it has always been our policy to ask bloggers to disclose their relationship with our clients. But for others who many not have been quite squeaky clean, the WOMMA code is no longer just a mere suggestion; it must be obeyed.
These new rules seem like pretty serious stuff if you ask me. But to be honest, we couldn’t be happier about this. It means that companies are actually relying on bloggers and tweeters to promote their products. Even more so, it means that people are listening to what these social media participants have to say, and taking it seriously.
Ultimately, FTC’s recognition of the power of word of mouth as a legitimate means of advertising and communication moves social media above being just “trendy”. This is the real deal, people! And we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.