While we at FindLaw have done a fine job of addressing corporate social media policy as it relates to employees, we have not yet spoken to creating a social media policy as it relates to your company's marketing and advertising.
An article in the ACC Docket magazine brought to light various issues that corporate counsel need to consider when it comes to advertising via social media. We've distilled the tips into four easy steps to help you craft an advertising social media policy.
1. Consider Federal Laws and Regulations
Just as you would review advertisements for compliance with the Federal Trade Commission Act's prohibition of false and deceptive advertising, you must do the same for messages your company conveys through social media. You must include relevant disclosures regarding "health, safety or performance of a product." In making sure that your tweets, shares, pins and video are in line with FTC requirements, you may want to review recent FTC publications on disclosures in digital advertising.
2. Consider State Laws and Regulations
All states have a counter-part to the Federal Trade Commission Act in the form of unfair competition and consumer protection laws. Acquaint yourself with the relevant laws to protect your company on the state level.
3. Disclosure: Creating a Policy for Testimonials and Endorsements
The heart of your company's social media policy as it relates to advertising will have to do with giving consumers the appropriate disclosures.
- Create Blogger Guidelines -- If your company gives bloggers free products to review, create a disclosure policy.
- Create Celebrity Guidelines -- If your company pays a celebrity to promote on your company's behalf on social media, there are two considerations: (1) you can be liable for their false statements; and (2) they must disclose that they are paid.
- Create Customer Guidelines -- Your company should avoid compensating consumers to "like," "share," and, "pin" -- "unless the incentive is conspicuously disclosed."
For more information on disclosures, review the FTC's guide on endorsements.
4. User Generated Content -- Be Wary
If your company engages in social media campaigns that involve the use and posting of User Generated Content ("UGC") your company must have a cohesive policy in place. Your company can be liable for UGC that is false and misleading. There are many risks associated with these campaigns, especially when they can go viral, so proceed here with caution.
There is no doubt that social media's impact and influence will only grow. Because ultimately, social media use by corporations is a form of advertising, it's necessary for the legal department to take as much care with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, and the like, as it would for radio, print and TV.
Has your company created an advertising social media policy? Let us know if we missed anything on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.
Editor's note, December 6, 2016: This article was first published in November, 2013. It has since been updated.
- Your Social Media Policy Can't Be Too Restrictive, Says NLRB (FindLaw's In House)
- Twitterfly Effect: Social Media and the Chobani Yogurt Mold Recall (FindLaw's In House)
- A Guide to Social Media for Corporate Counsel (FindLaw's In House)
- FindLaw's Corporate Counsel Center (FindLaw)