The second installment of the #GR8 Relevant Marketing Webinar series was a hit! “Follow the Rules: Social Media Campaigns,” was led by mRELEVANCE managing partner, Carol Morgan, and mRELEVANCE account manager, Melissa Stocks. Topics for this webinar included Federal Trade Commission (FTC) changes, promotion guidelines and site-specific guidelines, along with visual examples of successful social media campaigns mRELEVANCE has created.
In case you missed the broadcast, here’s a refresh on what we discussed related to social media campaigns:
- FTC Changes
The recent FTC guideline changes are the first in six years and brands can expect the FTC to pay more attention to social media marketing activity in the upcoming months. The FTC wants consumers to be able to tell the difference between advertising and other content, such as voluntary, uncompensated posts from genuinely happy consumers. Marketers are using new methods to create and deliver digital advertising to consumers. One form is “native advertising,” which looks just like the news and other content that surrounds it online.
According to MediaRadar, 26 percent of websites run native ads without mention of sponsors at all; and those that are marked are often only listed at the bottom of the page and/or with words like “promoted,” “recommended for you” or “sponsored,” which makes it difficult for consumers to identify native ads. Researchers found in a study conducted at UGA’s Grady College that less than eight percent of the participants were able to distinguish native ads as paid marketing. This ambiguity prompted the FTC to step in to protect consumers and prohibit unfair practices in the digital marketplace with a new set of guidelines.
To ensure that your business’ format of native advertising is not deceptive, be transparent in all communications.
The message from the FTC states, “We have given guidance. You are all on notice.” Make sure to brush up on the new regulations before sending out that tweet or Facebook post! If it is unclear whether or not to disclose the relationship with a brand, be on the safe side and disclose all relevant information. By the way, companies and individuals are expected to follow the guidelines regardless of how much space is available for a post. In other words, character limits and lack of space are not excuses. When employees make social media endorsements, they must disclose the relationship in every post. For example, if an employee personally retweets or shares a post made by the company they work for, he or she needs to disclose that the post being shared is their employer or a client. Use messaging such as, “Hey followers! Check out what my company/client is doing…” or “My company/ client (insert company name) is doing some great things! Check it out!” Disclosures must be in posts and not just in bios or profiles, and endorsements can only be made for products the user is actually familiar with.
Social media contests must be tagged with the word “contest” or “sweepstakes.” These tags will show disclosure for the post instead of just offering incentives without giving a reason why.
Video endorsements have been targeted with new rules and regulations. Multiple disclosures must be made within videos. The disclosures must be made throughout the video and be long enough for a viewer to completely read it. The disclosures must also be made verbally within the video. Basically, there cannot be any doubt about the relationship between the person providing the testimonial and the company they are endorsing.
Online reviews were also targeted during the FTC crack down. Online reviewers must disclose their relationships with brands. For instance, if a blogger receives a free product in exchange for writing about that product, they must include the relationship in the post. Companies can certainly continue to encourage reviews with free products or discounts, but cannot demand a positive review.
Essentially, a brand must define its relationship with endorsers clearly on social media. Make sure everyone on the team is aware of the changes and run audits so material can be reviewed.
To sum it up:
- Disclose any relationship with brands in all posts. If there’s payment involved, it is a requirement to disclose this.
- It does not matter if there is enough space or not. The FTC does not care about character count.
- Disclosures have to be in posts. Having a disclosure in a bio or on a page does not count.
- Contests must be labeled as such. If there is a contest hashtag, make sure it includes the words contest or sweepstakes. Include this language on images and graphics too.
- Example: Our client, Traton Homes, recently conducted a contest using Facebook and Pinterest as social media avenues using the hashtag #TratonHomesPinteractContest.
- Testimonial videos must include multiple disclosures.
- If a brand gives a free product in exchange for an online review, this must be disclosed.
The FTC is not the only organization demanding transparency and disclosure. Google has also sent a clear message to bloggers. Disclose the relationship with a brand and do not link to brand websites in exchange for products or services mentioned in blog posts that could contribute to an increase in the brand’s position in organic search listings. In other words, bloggers can’t provide link juice.
Bloggers must add the “nofollow” code to the link that prevents Google’s crawler from giving the post too much equity, which could push it to the top in search query rankings.
This warning isn’t new, but rather a reminder that bloggers are just as responsible as brands when it comes to transparency and making sure readers understand the relationship between the brand and the blogger, so recommendations and reviews made by those receiving gifts do not taint consumer purchasing decisions.
Google is letting both the blogger and brand know that they need to be transparent.
In promoting a brand and remaining relevant to an audience, many businesses host some type of promotion at one point or another. There are three types of promotions used to give things away: sweepstakes, contests and lotteries.
While they often go by many different names (like giveaways, raffles, and drawings), all promotions fit into one of these three categories.
Sweepstakes are prize giveaways where the winners are chosen by the luck-of-the-draw. It is totally random.
Contests choose a winner based on some criteria such as best photo, most votes on a video, etc.
A lottery is a prize drawing where people must pay money to buy a chance to win. Lotteries are highly regulated and should not be run without legal counsel.
Most promotions we see are sweepstakes or contests. Lotteries are often too expensive for most small and medium-sized businesses to run.
Keep in mind that each state has regulations regarding contests, so seek legal counsel in your state to remain compliant. Additionally, realtors have guidelines that they must follow, so if you are working with, or if the contest is for realtors, become familiar with those guidelines.
Every sweepstakes, contest or lottery must have easily accessible “official rules.” While the majority of people will never read the official rules, the risk of liability is greatly increased without them
Place a link to the rules where they are easy to find. Official rules should include:
- “No purchase necessary.”
- The alternative method of free participation.
- Geographic area of the sweepstakes and/or who is eligible to participate in the sweepstakes. If you are a local business hoping to increase foot traffic, consider limiting entries to people who live within a certain mile radius of your business.
- Opening date and scheduled termination date of the sweepstakes.
- Complete name and address of the sponsor and promoter of the contest.
- Number of prizes, the accurate description of each prize, the retail value of each prize and the odds of winning each type of prize.
- Whether all prizes offered will be awarded and how the prizes will be awarded.
- Description of how the winner will be chosen and when a determination of winners will be made.
- Where and when a list of winners can be obtained.
Most giveaway prizes have minimal value —$50 restaurant gift card or a free product. If the value of your prize is several hundred dollars (typically $600 or more), keep in mind that you will need to take an extra step and provide a Form 1099 to the prizewinner. This means the name and address of the winner will need to be collected, along with their social security number.
- Site-Specific Guidelines
When it comes to Facebook, here are some dos and don’ts:
Facebook promotions must include:
- Official rules
- Terms and requirements
- Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing
- Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
- Notification that Facebook is not liable for anything having to do with the promotion
Pinterest requests that contests and promotions that are run on Pinterest should encourage authentic behavior to keep Pinterest spam-free and comply with all relevant laws and regulations. In addition, Pinterest has a few rules related to contests:
- Do not require participants to Pin a specific image: Successful contests encourage creative and authentic behavior. Give Pinners the ability to choose Pins based on their tastes and preferences, even if it’s from a selection or a given website. Do not ask Pinners to Pin a specific image.
- Do not allow multiple entries per participant. Contests that encourage multiple entries per person feel less authentic and can negatively affect other Pinners.
- Do not suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses the business or the promotion: Review Pinterest’s brand guidelines for general rules.
mRELEVANCE coordinates a variety of campaigns and promotions that include social media elements for our clients. Visit our portfolio for examples.
Stay tuned for more FREE webinars from Marketing RELEVANCE. Don’t miss our next one, May 24 at 2 p.m. ET: The Making of a #GR8 Website. Register for the #GR8 Relevant Marketing webinars at www.MarketingRELEVANCE.com/Webinars. Be sure to use the hashtag #GR8mRELWebinars when sharing webinar information.
Searching for the right agency and experts to improve the marketing strategy for your company? Look no further, call mRELEVANCE today at 770-383-3360 or contact us.