Staying out of trouble with social media

Posted by on December 14, 2010 in Conduct, Online Marketing, Social Media | 0 comments

When it comes to promoting yourself or your business online using social media, trust and integrity are of the utmost importance. Last year Andy Sernovitz, Gaspedal’s CEO and SmartBrief on Social Media editor at large, led a 20-minute speed session at the Word of Mouth Supergenius event on adhering to word-of-mouth ethics, creating social media policies and training your team. According to Andy, and he’s absolutely correct, trust is what makes social media work.  The multiplier effect of viral marketing is not going to happen unless people trust you or your brand. Here are his ethical guidelines to protect you and your brand reputation:
  • Never pay anyone for word of mouth.  People will never again trust you if you do.
  • Don’t lie to your mom.  Is your word of mouth based on honest opinions and real experiences?
  • Disclosure is essential, easy to do, and the law.  The FTC guidelines for safe social media outreach are:
    1. Require truthfulness and disclosure.
    2. Monitor the conversation about your company and correct misstatements.
    3. Create social media policies and training programs.
    4. Make disclosure clear and conspicuous by the average reader.  “I work for _____, and this is my personal opinion” is an effective way to start.  Also, be sure to include if you were paid or not.
  • Be careful who you hire (agencies, PR firms, social media consultants).  Make sure your agencies and PR firms are vigilant about these ethics.
  • Create an official social media disclosure policy.
  • Be clear and conspicuous, so the average person can understand your disclosures and policies.
If you aren’t sure about something and have to ask for legal advice, then don’t do it.  The Social Media Business Council has put together a free disclosure best practices toolkit, it’s a great place to start.

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