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Social Media Ethics Briefing: Staying Out of Trouble — Live from BlogWell

Coverage of this session by Theresa Braun of Likeable Media. Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

3:10 — Kurt Vanderah introduces‘s CEO, Andy Sernovitz.

3:11 — Andy says, “This will not be a downer talk.”

3:13 — Andy: Here’s the issue: As a social media leader and big brand, you’re surrounded by so many resources, but there’s no one to help you with legal issues. The job of an agency or tech provider isn’t to tell you what’s legal or ethical.

3:14 — Andy is going to share the rules to follow and how to run a clean social media campaign.

3:14 — Andy: It starts with trust. That’s the secret to success in social media. Social media is impossible without some sort of relationship with someone who is willing to put his or her name on the line and endorse your brand.

3:15 — An ethics program isn’t something you tack on — it’s the first step, because it’s fundamental to your success.

3:15 — Andy: The difference between honesty and sleazery is disclosure. When you get that piece right, you’ll establish trust, and people will be more likely to talk about your brand.

3:17 — Andy says disclosure is the law. The FTC recently updated their laws and will only keep busting brands.

3:18 — Andy: Social media laws are the same as the advertising rules put into place in 1938 by FDR. It’s simple: You can’t deceive consumers. Every new law is just saying: You STILL can’t deceive consumers.

3:18 — Andy reminds the audience that social media doesn’t get exemptions from the law.

3:19 — Rules for Safe Social Media Outreach:

  1. Require disclosure and truthfulness in social media.
  2. Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.
  3. Create social media policies and training. (Plus, don’t pay for it.)

3:21– Andy says, “The moment you pay for it, it’s not social media anymore. It’s advertising.”

3:22 — Andy: When people learn that you paid for some of your word of mouth, they won’t believe the genuine word of mouth.

3:23 — 10 Magic Words: “I work for _____, and this is my personal opinion.” This starts the habit of disclosure and separating official corporate statements.

3:24 — Andy says to answer these questions: Who are you? Were you paid? Is it an honest opinion based on a real experience?

3:25 — Clear and Conspicuous: Obvious disclosure + Upfront + Don’t lie to your mom.

3:25 — Andy: Consumers should know when they look at something that it’s marketing. If your mom wouldn’t understand that a campaign is marketing, you have to ask yourself why you’re putting together something that would trick your own mother.

3:26 — Andy shares the 2013 FTC Warning: Stop ignoring us + Stop faking it + If you can’t be honest, don’t do it.

3:27 — Andy: If you don’t know how to tweet something that is clear and conspicuous, you can’t tweet it.

3:27 — Andy: We’re being put on notice, as the social media industry, that the FTC isn’t happy and will be cracking down.

3:28 — Andy shares some disclosure #fails:

  • #spon = #bs (If it’s sponsored, it should say #sponsored).
  • (People aren’t supposed to know to click on a link for disclosure).
  • “Native ads.”

3:29 — Andy says people are inventing ways to pretend to do disclosure. It should just be simple enough to say, “Hey, this is an ad.”

3:30 — Andy: Brands are 100% liable. You should be really worried if your agency hasn’t come to you to tell you about the FTC’s update or are recommending you do things not in compliance with these rules.

3:31 — No one is an expert in social media risk.

3:32 — Andy: No one goes out there and says, “My plan is to embarrass us in social media.” So what happens? The junior staffer isn’t knowledgeable enough to say that a cool idea doesn’t meet the rules.

3:33 — Andy: If you, the company, create a social media policy and train your team, the FTC will not hold the company responsible if something goes wrong.

3:34 — has created a Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit: It’s been “lawyered up” and hundreds of companies have already started using it.

3:35 — Andy: We have a chance to do something good. How we treat social media is what is going to happen.

3:37 — Andy: Save your brand. Save your reputation. Save your job. (You don’t want to be the person who walks into your boss’s office and says that you’ve gotten the company removed from Google because of an experiment.)

3:37 — Andy: We don’t market our brand with Craigslist ads because we have brand pride. Don’t go there. Ignore the pitches from anyone who smells a little fishy. They’ll pitch a sleazy stealth marketing plan to anyone who will say, “Sure, let’s test it.”

3:39 — Andy: When someone tells you that the best way to promote your brand is to hide it, that doesn’t make any sense. When someone tells you that the best way to get your message out there is to obscure it, that doesn’t make any sense.

3:40 — Andy says that anything that makes an ad look like not an ad is illegal. If you have to disclose it, it’s probably deceptive.

3:40 — Andy: Get rid of the need for disclosure in the first place.

3:40 — Andy: If you have to ask, the answer is no. It’s easier to be honest. Psst: pass it on.

April 17, 2013 0 comments

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