There’s been an uptick in discussion around disclosure when it comes to online conversations about brands and products from people with an interest in them. It was a constant point of discussion during the early days of influencer marketing, and one thing gets clearer each day — we’re all influencers in one way or another.
We Have A Lot to Lose
Word of mouth marketing is the most trusted form of marketing out there. It’s incredibly valuable when one person shares a positive experience or opinion about a brand with someone else. They often take action, and if they don’t take action, there’s a good chance they’ll at least carry that positive message to their own friends. There’s power in word of mouth marketing both on and offline, which is why it’s in marketers’ best interest to protect it.
No Harm Intended
The recent cases around agencies promoting their own work and others not properly disclosing are somewhat understandable. After all, if you don’t know, you might not consider disclosing, especially if you underestimate the power your statements have in influencing others. In all likelihood, no harm was intended, but what is now more true than ever is there are no more excuses. Everyone should know.
Coming clean about where you stand is something we should all know as we represent our agencies, our clients and work with third-party influencers to share brand content. The FTC has made it’s voice heard, and the industry has echoed its statements.
It’s always been marketers’ and their partners’ responsibility to protect the integrity of the message. Now, with high-profile cases and rulings out there, our responsibility is even more critical.
When we protect the message by ensuring disclosure is practiced appropriately, it sets brands up for success over the long-term. Messages shared with a material connection still have power, and when we disclose in those messages, it makes endorsements with no material connection that require no disclosure all the more powerful, meaningful and memorable.
So now it’s on us. It’s on us to educate our employees and clients. It’s on us to monitor brand conversations to ensure appropriate disclosure is being practiced. And it’s on us to hold partners accountable.
We are young. We’re growing. The rules and behavior that govern the social web are still being written. Now, another step in our evolution in understanding how to behave online has been taken. No more excuses when it comes to disclosure.