WOMMA lays out disclosure guidelines for social media

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Social media marketers should make it easy for consumers to consider the source when products are being discussed, according to new disclosure guidelines from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

The WOMMA guidelines reflect Federal Trade Commission guidelines on endorsements and testimonials that went into effect last December.

Paul Rand, board president of WOMMA and president and CEO of the Zócalo Group, said WOMMA's guidelines are the “practical applications” of the FTC guidelines: how to do it across various channels, and how it will look.

Marketers using Twitter, for example, should use one of three hashtags with any post when disclosure is needed:

■  #spon, for sponsored
■  #paid, for paid
■  #samp, for sample

For commenting in online discussions, a short disclosure statement is needed, e.g., “I received [product or sample] from [company name],” or “I was paid by [company name]," according to the guidelines (pdf).

WOMMA also recommends posting a “Disclosure and Relationships Statement” on the profile page of video and photo-sharing sites, blogs and social networks. Rand said WOMMA's guidelines are not meant to be a replacement for legal counsel, but will hopefully aid marketers in adhering to FTC guidelines.   

"I have consistently found that disclosure creates a better connection with readers and individuals, because there's clarity about motivation and connection to a brand. There's not as much second guessing about whether certain information is trustworthy or not," said Rand.

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