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Always be transparent in your messaging. This ensures that the audience knows the content is your 'message' and not forwarded consumer 's message. An example of this is when an employee's poses as ordinary consumers and praises your company online. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not take kindly to this behavior and watches for faked consumer reviews.
The same advice should be expected if you use bloggers to promote your products. FTC’s guidelines for endorsements state that "If there is a “material connection” between an advertiser and an endorser, the endorser must disclose that connection." If your company pays a blogger, it can be held liable if bloggers fail to comply. That makes it important to establish guidelines for your bloggers.
One of the scariest aspects of social media pertains to content that consumers posted on their sites when:
- Content allegedly violated someone’s copyrights
- Contained false claims
- Contained defamatory statements
The courts generally state that companies are not liable for problematic content posted by consumers. However you should NOT invite problems which entails providing clear guidelines about what consumers can and cannot do. Some of the laws that offer you protection also dictate what you must do to enjoy that protection. Check with an attorney to see if this affects your messaging.
To Publish Bad News - Yes or No or If
Most companies want to address problems quickly to prevent bad news from spreading through social media. Sometimes an ill-planned solution is worse than the original problem ... such as taking down a problematic post or leaving it could make it worse. Since everyone in business uses some form of social media, your audience will respect you for admitting a problem. But, sometimes (rarely) your admission could lead to court proceedings. Remember when something goes wrong with your message, pull your stakeholder team together (including the legal team) and what the best option is before acting.
Learn more about Legal Social Media Guidelines from Georgetown Law: