Social Media Marketers Face New Challenges As FTC Rolls Out New Guidelines

Jinger Jarrett

The Federal Trade Commission rolled out its latest truth in advertising guidelines. The last time the FTC updated its guidelines for truth in advertising was back in 2010. The new guidelines may precede a crackdown for social media marketing.

Their effect on social media marketing includes how marketers handle the use of celebrity endorsements. The FTC recommends that marketers have a proper disclosure check up to make sure that their social media marketing campaigns fall within FTC guidelines. The FTC updated its "What People Are Asking" page last month to include more specific information on how social media marketing messages need to be handled, including a clear disclosure of the relationship between the product and the celebrity endorser, as per Marketing Land.

Social media is having a dramatic effect on how internet users interact on the Internet. Social media campaigns on sites like Twitter and Facebook that help people quit smoking allow not just marketers to get out their message, but governments and non-profits, too.

Another issue the FTC is releasing stronger guidelines for include contests, sweepstakes, and fake Facebook likes. If marketers are unsure of whether a disclosure is necessary, as in the example of a tweet for a coupon, it's best to post the disclosure and err on the side of caution. The FTC recommends against incentivizing likes, even though Facebook ended the practice last year by shutting down the use of "like gates" in social media campaigns.

One important distinction here for social media marketers is that the FTC treats contests and giveaways different, so it's a good idea to understand the difference between the two and comply based on the type of social media marketing campaign your company plans to run. Avoid doing anything that could be perceived as a lottery, because lotteries may only be run by the states, according to Business2Community.

Two other important issues the FTC addressed for social media marketers dealt with Twitter tweets and videos. The FTC doesn't consider the 140-character limit an excuse for not including a disclaimer. For video, including a disclaimer in the description area of the page is also not enough. To be fully compliant with the new social media marketing rules, a disclaimer must also be included at the beginning of the video.

There was a lot of buzz on Twitter about the new social media marketing guidelines, and marketers gave the impression that the new guidelines only add more confusion and regulation without helping to provide clarity for consumers.

— Erik Sass (@ErikSass1) June 24, 2015

— Elena Verlee (@ElenaVerlee) June 25, 2015

— Interstellar (@GoInterstellar) June 25, 2015

Have you implemented the new FTC guidelines in your social media marketing campaigns yet? If so, has it influenced your campaigns in any way?

[Photo Credit Social Media Explorer]