Marketer disclosure in social media

Later today (12 EST), the the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association is organizing an open conference call on the issue: marketer disclosure in social media.

“Most consumers believe that content in environments like MySpace or YouTube has been created by non-marketers. WOMMA’s goal is to establish actionable guidelines and best practices for marketers working in this media. When complete, these guidelines will provide marketers with industry-accepted terms as to what constitutes sufficient disclosure.”

If you’re interested in consumer generated media and especially in how marketing should interact, then I think you should listen in on this call. The purpose of the call is to let you on in the draft document of the ethics code WOMMA is building regarding social media.  

“A foundational building block of that ethics code, which we believe is as relevant as ever to evolving social media, is what is known as the “Honesty ROI.” This includes the following:

  • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
  • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
  • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

We especially call out the “honesty of identity” provision, which speaks most clearly to the new forms of social media that are quickly unfolding. “Disclosure of identity,” the code notes, “is vital to establishing trust and credibility. We do not blur identification in a manner that might confuse or mislead consumers as to the true identity of the individual with whom they are communicating, or instruct or imply that others should do so.”

Just like states, the debate could not be more timely. More and more brands are engaging with social media and we see bad examples pop up more regularly as well. Only a week ago we were talking about astroturfing (never heard of it before) during a discussion amongst marketers on the implications of brand engagement in social media was heaviliy discussed.


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