This year, the Federal Trade Commission released a new set of social media guidelines that sent a clear message to marketers everywhere: The FTC isn’t happy, the industry is being put on notice, and enforcement for these guidelines is on its way. And although the guidelines address modern marketing tactics, the rules really aren’t anything new.

In this presentation from SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference in New York, I explain why social media marketers are no exception to the Truth in Advertising rules. I also cover why every social media marketer should be talking about ethics first and foremost — and with everyone from their agencies to summer interns.

Here are some key points from the presentation:

  • No more fake disclosures: The FTC says deceptive ad disclosures like “#spon” or tiny disclosure links buried in tweets and Facebook posts aren’t going to work. True disclosure has to be clear and conspicuous to the average user.
  • If you can’t be honest, don’t do it: Don’t know how to fit a paid celebrity endorsement and disclosure in 140 characters? Or how you can make a “native ad” look clearly sponsored? These are good signs you shouldn’t do it at all. The FTC says if you can’t figure out how to do it legally, you shouldn’t be doing it.
  • The need for disclosure should be a warning sign. Although this isn’t part of the official guidelines, The FTC acknowledges that if you need a disclosure, there’s probably some element of deception in your advertising. They suggest getting rid of the need for disclosure from the start.

Like what you see? Learn from more great social media case studies like this one live at SocialMedia.org’s BlogWell conference August 6 in the Bay Area.

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