MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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“This is not a sponsored post”

Quick shout out to Brian Solis at PR 2.0 for being oh-so-relevant once again.

In his post on May 26, titled This is Not a Sponsored Post: What You Need to Know About Sponsored Conversations & the FTC, he touched on the subject we had debated briefly in class yesterday: companies paying bloggers to write favourably about them without a disclaimer.

As consumers look to bloggers  as both peers  and experts, they take their opinions into account when making buying decisions. Because of this social capital,  marketers and advertisers are beginning to view bloggers as potential “brand ambassadors” for their products.

Enter the “veil” that online communication can provide – increased anonymity, and a lack (thus far) of guidelines about who can write what, what can be said, etc. This ease means that marketers can, and have, commissioned bloggers (or posed as a blogger themselves) to write favourably about a product and/or brand.

The ethical issue about whether or not a blogger should disclaim sponsorship was raised in class, so for all of you that were biting your nails about what can be done about this, I’ll let Mr. Solis do the speaking:

“…that’s all about to change. Under new guidelines proposed by the Federal Trade Commission [FTC], brands and/or bloggers may be held liable should either the FTC or scorned consumers deem that the actions or claims misguided their decision and/or misrepresented actual performance or efficacy.

So, it looks like we might see some laws cracking down in the social-media-scape! Refreshing, especially with all of the government red tape that seems to block action when it comes to the ever-changing internet.

I’ll let Bri close this one off for me:

“With or without the new FTC guidelines, the practice of disclosure is not an option when the potential for significantly damaging customer relationships in a very public spotlight is at stake. Unfortunately, it’s not at the forefront of many of our marketing programs.”

Very interesting. Any thoughts?


June 2, 2009 - Posted by | Review of Monitored Site

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for the information about this paid blogger business! I too was quite intrigued when this issue came up in the class with Ben and Kimberly.

    Actually, it brought to mind the Walmart incident we learned about early in the program- where a couple posed as bloggers and travelled around the U.S in their RV visiting Walmart stores (as a refresher: When we learned about this, I recall it coming as a warning of what we should not do in our PR careers. So it’s good to hear that there seem to be guidelines coming in the future to curb this kind of behaviour and make sure disclosure is practiced.

    Comment by traceyboland | June 8, 2009 | Reply

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