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In an effort to reach consumers via social channels, in recent years a growing number of brands large and small have embraced influencer marketing.
In May 2000, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a number of guidelines designed to help companies stay in compliance with numerous consumer protection laws as they increased their presence on the then-nascent commercial internet.
The FTC's Dot Com Disclosures (PDF) document largely explained how existing laws around advertising and disclosure applied in the context of the internet, and provided some specific examples.
When the FTC first announced that it was looking closely at blogs and social media, one of the groups that many thought would come under close scrutiny was mommy bloggers.
Flash forward to today. The FTC rules are in place but it's business as usual for mommy bloggers who get free product in exchange for product reviews on their blogs. That's according to a survey of 130 mommy bloggers conducted by Mom Central Consulting.
The Federal Trade Commission came under fire when it released new disclosure guidelines on sponsorships this fall. Most vocal were bloggers concerned that anyone online could be fined up to $11,000 for disclosure violations.
But Len Gordon, the FTC's Northeast director, thinks speculation surrounding the new rules has been overblown. Speaking at Venable's "mini-summit" in New York this morning, Gordon took a moment to dispel rumors that his agency will be banging down the door of mommy bloggers who accept free samples of soap without posting about it.
Twitter was borne of a simple idea: co-founder Jack Dorsey was interested in "being able to know what his friends were doing". Since Twitter was launched as a side project of Obvious Inc., a lot has changed.
The popular microblogging service is used for a lot of things. Some of them, like the distribution of breaking news and customer service, are more helpful than others, like shameless self-promotion and spam.
Social media can be a great tool but there's an ugly side. Because of the nature of social media, its commercialization has raised a number of issues around subjects like disclosure and integrity.
The reality is that paying to play is an easy and effective way for brands to get into the social media game. The downsides of this were demonstrated quite well at this year's BlogHer conference.
Disclosure is a touchy subject when it comes to blogging and digital journalism. Most of the time, the debate is centered on when disclosure is necessary. But what happens when disclosure isn't enough?
As I was going through my feed reader yesterday, I came across a post on Silicon Alley Insider (SAI) that serves as the perfect example of why a debate about journalistic ethics and standards online can't be limited to the topic of disclosure.
Social media has opened up quite a few cans of worms. Lots of people have been forced to reevaluate how they handle certain things in light of social media's increasing prominence with consumers.
Add another can of worms to the debate: the potentially treacherous combination of social media and affiliate marketing.