Sophisticated marketers have a lot on their minds these days, such as developing and reaching audiences, creating consumer connections with meaningful content and campaigns, demonstrating business results — and, of course, doing it all in compliance with legal rules and guidelines.

The Federal Trade Commission recently completed an investigation into a Pinterest-based contest conducted by fashion brand Cole Haan. The contest asked participants to create Pinterest boards called “Wandering Sole” and pin five images of shoes from Cole Haan’s own board and five additional place images, all tagged #WanderingSole. The most creative entry, as judged by Cole Haan, would receive a $1,000 shopping spree.

In a public letter to Cole Haan’s counsel, the FTC expressed concern that the re-pinning of product merchandise without a clear indicator that the pins constituted a contest entry may have violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, which “requires the disclosure of a material connection between a marketer and an endorser when their relationship is not otherwise apparent from the context of the communication that contains the endorsement.”

The FTC chose not to pursue any action against Cole Haan, but the incident has raised questions in the minds of savvy social marketers. (read more…)

Since the FTC updated their social media guidelines last year, a lot of social marketers have a lot of questions about staying legal. The bottom line: It all comes down to proper disclosure.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference, Andy Sernovitz explains why paying for social media coverage makes a sticky situation that requires the right kind of disclosure. But he also shares why doing disclosure right is easy.

Here are three ways you can make a habit of staying ethical in social media:

  • Use these 10 magic words: “I work for (company) and this is my personal opinion.” When you’re open and honest about who you are, it not only keeps you out of legal trouble, but can also help your credibility.
  • Make it clear and conspicuous: The FTC doesn’t give social media marketers a script to follow. Instead, they require marketers to just be upfront about disclosure in a way that’s easy to understand and easy to see.
  • (read more…)

4SDIt’s been an exciting year for Foursquare. On the heels of its fifth birthday (March 11, in case you want to send a present), CEO Dennis Crowley announced that revenues grew by 600% in 2013 and 500% the first quarter of 2014, and its now home to 45 million users.

Fueled by B2B relationships and people with a love for local, Foursquare did not do this alone. On Wednesday, April 16, people around the world celebrate Foursquare Day, a grassroots movement celebrating local communities, ideas and people. Starting in Tampa, Fla., in 2010, Foursquare Day was created by Nate Bonilla-Warford, an optometrist and local business owner. Nate, a numbers guy and Pi Day celebrator, pointed out that 42 = 16, and proposed that April 16 should be known as Foursquare Day. With the help of an independent group of Tampa social media nerds, on March 26, Foursquare made it official with a tweet. (read more…)

A social media presence isn’t just nice for a wealth management firm to have, it is now vital to the business, Clara Shih, founder and CEO of Hearsay Social, a social media marketing software maker, told the audience at SIFMA’s Private Client Conference last week in New York City.

“The world has gone social and mobile,” Shih said. Ninety-eight percent of U.S. Internet users belong to a social network, with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn being the most important social networks for advisers, she said.

These tools help advisers to stay in touch with clients and keep their business top of mind. Ultimately, online signals can lead to offline conversations and a striking social media presence is as important as being listed in the Yellow Pages used to be, Shih said.

But social media is more than a marketing tool. It allows advisers to see the life events of clients that trigger financial decisions, such as getting married, having a baby or buying a home. (read more…)

Recognizing that this post is going out on a social media blog and will be promoted on a newsletter mainly for social media practitioners and is being written by a guy who runs a social/content agency, you’ll have to pardon the heretical if not potentially self-destructive nature of the headline above. But, really truly folks, now is the time to ask this question.

After about six years of social centricity I, like many long-time students of this peculiar art form, am champing at the bit to move social out of its self-perpetuated isolation into the broader operational fabric of business strategy. To this end, here are five solid reasons why its time to drink the “social business” Kool-Aid and stop thinking about social as a separate department or discipline within an organization.

1. Isolating social forces inane metrics.

Trying to calculate the discrete return on investment of organic social activity is a fool’s errand, since there are way too many factors influencing any given purchase decision. (read more…)