The Word of Mouth Marketing Association released a Guide to Disclosure in Social Media Marketing in an effort to help companies navigate the FTC’s new rules on endorsements and testimonials. Manatt Partner and WOMMA General Counsel, Tony DiResta, and Gabe Martinez, also of Manatt, provided substantive review of the document, not only to ensure the accuracy of its content, but to make it as useful for compliance and legal departments as possible.
In December, the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising went into effect, which applied to blogs and other social media platforms that utilized word-of-mouth marketing.
Under the new rules, endorsers – including bloggers – are required to disclose any material connection they might have to the company whose products they are writing about.
WOMMA released its guide to help word-of-mouth marketers disclose their material connections.
The guide emphasizes the need for clear and prominent disclosures on all forms of media. Disclosure language should be easily understood and unambiguous, while the placement of disclosures should not be hidden deep in text or on the page, but easily viewed, the guide suggests.
In addition, the font of disclosures should be in a reasonable size and color that consumers can read.
The guide includes sample disclosures for blogs, online discussions, status updates (like on Facebook), microblogs (like Twitter), video- and photo-sharing Web sites, and podcasts.
For example, the model disclosure for product reviews suggests that bloggers write, “I received [product or sample] from [company name] to review” or “I was paid by [company name] to review.”
The guides further suggest that for product review blogs, bloggers create a “Disclosure and Relationships Statement” section that discloses how the blogger works with a company in accepting and reviewing its products, and post the statement prominently on the blog.
Why it matters: The FTC’s new requirements are a sea change for those using word-of-mouth marketing on social media platforms. WOMMA’s model disclosures offer helpful guidance for any marketers concerned about how to comply with the new requirements.