Federal Trade Commission Takes Aim At Social Media Marketing
Do you participate in ‘like exchanges’, purchase fans, followers or +1s, or include incentives for consumers to ‘like’ your business? According to USAToday, a recent FTC workshop identified a new form of ‘deceptive advertising’. Specifically, “Incentives for consumers to “like” companies on Facebook fall into a “gray area” that depends on whether the number of likes a company has influences consumers in choosing their products”.
The incentive itself is not the issue at hand. The FTC requires that advertisers disclose ‘paid endorsements’. More information can be found in the FTC Dot Com Disclosure document here.
Payment isn’t necessarily monetary. Common non-monetary examples of a ‘paid endorsement’ include free product samples, entries into a drawing to win a prize, and even coupons or discounts. If you are offering anything to consumers in return for a ‘like’, ‘follow’ or ‘+1’, you must disclose the likes as ‘paid endorsements’.
The FTC recommends that brands be transparent. To protect your business, create a disclosure page and place a link to it in the about section of all social media profiles.