FTC Endorsement Rules: Give Your Social Media Contest the Green Light
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made a not-so-subtle update to the Q&A section on its Endorsement Guides, and all marketers should be aware.
Detailing the dos and don'ts for the future of advertising, the Endorsement Guides are a marketer's best friend when it comes to ensuring promotions and contests used in marketing, advertising and social media comply.
The FTC set an example in regards to endorsement violation in March 2014 when a warning was issued to Cole Haan about the flaws in a Pinterest contest supported by the shoe company. Under the new regulations, the #WanderingSole tag wasn't sufficient in informing Pinterest users of the contest associated with the pictures.
While Cole Haan simply received a slap on the wrist, consequences are sure to be stricter in the future. Prepare now, fellow marketers, and you'll be thankful in the long run. Consider the following four tips:
1. Use clear language in contests and sweepstakes. According to a recent report, contest forms are converting at a rate of 35 percent. However, it's extremely important to make sure your social media contest agrees with the new FTC endorsement rules.
As outlined by the FTC, contest disclosures should be "clear and conspicuous." Translation: State what you may think is obvious and without abbreviation.
For example, a special hashtag like #MTVAwards doesn't do enough to clarify to users that they're participating in a contest or promotion. Rather, it should be something along the lines of #MTVAwardsContest. To fully comply with FTC regulations, the hashtag must include "contest" or "sweepstakes" when used in conjunction with either.
2. Be real — avoid fake Facebook likes. The FTC has officially declared this process as fraudulent if the account isn't tied to an actual consumer. Buyers and sellers of likes will be found in violation of the new laws if they continue trading fake likes for money.