Twitter & Social Media Affiliate Marketing Guidelines

How do you handle an Social Media or Twitter post when you are an affiliate marketer?

Last night I was at an event where an attorney spoke about internet marketing laws. I asked her this very question and she responded about how there was no good legal guideline in tort law established yet. But, based on the new FTC Endorsement Rules, you should somehow disclose your relationship (if compensated for it) when endorsing something via a tweet or status update.

Then, this morning I received this email from a company with whom I am an affiliate. From a business owner perspective, I actually think it is a pretty good policy and guideline for people to follow when posting an affiliate link to Twitter or social media networks so I am posting it here for others to learn from.

Dear Debra Zimmer:

XXX.com will be updating their program terms to include guidelines for advertising in the social media space.  This update was due to recent FTC rules and regulations that XXX.com and its affiliates must comply by.  We encourage you to read through the information below and make the necessary changes to be compliant.

1.     All social media messages must adhere to XXX.com content standards. http://www.XXX.com/affiliate/contentstandards.asp

2.    Affiliates linking to XXX.com on social media sites must disclose their relationship as an affiliate. Reason: We require this so that all affiliates will be in compliance with FTC regulations. If you are recommending a company or product by sharing a link that can potentially earn you revenue, you must disclose this to your followers, readers, fans, etc.

Example of compliant message:
Need dental care savings? XXX.com has 30+ discount dental plans to choose from (affiliate link) http://bit.ly/GoodExample

Example of NON-compliant affiliate message:
Just saved lots of money using my plan from XXX.com. You should get a plan too. http://bit.ly/BadExample

3.    Affiliates linking to XXX.com on social media sites must state in their bio or in the link that they are an affiliate and not a XXX.com employee. Reason: While we welcome affiliates to use social media, we do not allow affiliates to act as official spokespeople for our company.

Contact Information
Have a comment or question about this update? Call or email your Affiliate Manager.

I haven’t seen anyone on twitter or other social media sites using a disclosure statement yet, have you? Have you been seeing tweets and status updates that say “affiliate link”? I would bet that it would make it a lot harder for affiliates to make money. Is it just me or does it seem that the affiliate industry is taking a beating recently?

FTC Internet Advertising Guidelines for Bloggers, Internet & Affiliate Marketers

Testimonial Advertisements & Celebrity Endorsements

The Federal Trade Commission has finally issued an update to their guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials as used on the internet and social media. The last update was in 1980, well before the influence of websites, blogs and social media.

If you are a blogger, affiliate marketer or internet marketer, you need to be aware of how these revisions affect you and your business. You may want discuss these changes with your attorney and make adjustments to your web site, blog or social media campaigns.

The full text of the press release is available here.

The full text of the Act is available here.

In summary, the clarifications to the FTC Act are:

1) Advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.

2) “Material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. So, Bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

3) Celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

It’s a good idea to ensure your web site, blog and social media strategy are following these new guidelines for the use of testimonial advertising and endorsements.

Affiliates | Terms of Use | Earnings Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Copyright © 2009-2012 The Expert Marketing Coach. All Rights Reserved.