With the advent of social media has come the introduction of FTC rules and regulations on the right ways to handle it for your company. The rules are simple and allow a good deal of creativity in interpretation. But, they are rules and when broken can result in stiff penalties and heavy fines, the first meted out so far was for $300K. Here’s what you need to know. To comply, your social media communications:
#1 Require disclosure and truthfulness in social media outreach.
In other words, you can’t pay someone to blog about your brand without disclosing that. There must be a clear distinction, authentic and transparent, between advertising and advertorial and someone’s unpaid, unsolicited opinion and feedback.
#2 Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.
You have a responsibility to maintain awareness of what is being said particularly by those who work for you and correct any misstatements that they make.
#3 Create social media policies and training programs.
By doing this you have protected yourself and your brand. If a rogue player jumps in and starts making statements, you are immune from punishment as long as you have policies and training programs in place.
This is about being aware and tuned in to the social media activities and communications that your brand generates, whether you are a company of one or hundreds. One of the most profound comments made is that it doesn’t matter what you think your brand is, what matters is what you audience is telling you it is. Companies are now being guided by the consumer, instead of the consumer being dictated to by the company.
Coca-Cola understands this well with their Expedition 206 campaign that has three brand ambassadors chosen by their online fans, taking a trip around the world in 365 days to spread the joy of Coca-Cola. These are not celebrities but regular people who have garnered the support of tens of thousands of fans and been voted on to have this adventure in promotion. Interestingly and suitably the top candidates all speak multiple languages and carry dual citizenship to facilitate such an endeavor. This means that more often these people aren’t going to be American because we don’t promote and certainly don’t require more than one language and rarely do we allow dual citizenship.
Newell Rubbermaid tackles their social media outreach one brand at a time. With Sharpie markers for example they have “Sharpie Sue” who is the voice at their blog. They found that once she began blogging and inviting Sharpie experiences from around the world, the content simply flowed in. It has proved to be a loyal creative following and pushed the brand forward with its own unique momentum. (Check out the real life images here, a Lamborghini completely graffitied in Sharpie then clear coated to protect the art, and a pair of sunglasses, Sharpiefied!)
What will you do to harness the power of social media, play inside the rules, and move your business forward?
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