Don’t Trick Your Mother (And 19 Other Social Media Guidelines)

The FTC recently updated its disclosure guidelines, which affects how all of us approach our social media marketing efforts. But without a thorough understanding of the new guidelines, you may already be breaking the rules.

Luckily, we got Andy Sernovitz, New York Times bestselling author and CEO of, to help make sure you completely understand and comply with the new federal guidelines with our webinar, The FTC Disclosure Guidelines: Are You Safe?.

From the Salesforce Marketing Cloud webinar, here are 20 straight-forward, cut-to-the-chase, no-bull social media guidelines.

  1. Clearly state that your marketing message is a marketing message. This is the law.
  2. Just because it's social media doesn't mean it's right to lie.
  3. Even if your agency does your social media for you, you are still responsible.
  4. Disclose and be truthful in social media. Don't lie to people. If they're part of a paid program, tell them that.
  5.  Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements. You cant control what people write, but you need to make a good faith effort to correct wrong information.
  6. Don't pay for it. Paying people to write reviews of your product makes it paid advertising and not genuine.
  7. Use these magic words: I work for ____, and this is my personal opinion. This creates a habit of disclosure and separates personal social media from company statements.
  8. Be upfront that your content is marketing. Get your audience to say,"That's a marketing message."
  9. Does it pass the Mom test? If your mom doesn't realize that your social post was paid marketing, that means your average reader doesn't realize it.
  10. Don't trick your own mother.
  11. If you can't add a disclosure on your ad, then you can't launch it.
  12. Avoid obscure disclosures such as hashtags (#spon) or saying, "Native Ads." That's not clear enough.
  13. Don't make your social posts look like consumer content. That's sleazy.
  14. The biggest risk is not training your employees. Teach the points in this blog post.
  15. There is a clear protection that will keep you out of trouble: a social media policy.
  16. If you make a good faith effort to train your team, the FTC won't hold you accountable for the actions of rogue employees.
  17. Raise youe standards. Anything that makes your ad look like an a not-ad is wrong.
  18. We have a chance to do something good. Say "no" when you think it's wrong.
  19. If you have to disclose it, it's probably deceptive.
  20. Have a 100% zero tolerance for B.S. policy.

The bottom line?  The secret to social media is trust. Disclose your social advertising and you'll be trustworthy. As Andy shared in this post, these rules are not new. It's always been illegal to lie. So save your brand, save your reputation and save your job.

Watch the webinar recording, and share your guidelines in the comments. Stay safe and don't be sleazy! Tour.png
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