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FTC Guidelines for Bloggers and I pledge to Blog with Integrity

FTC Guidelines for Bloggers and I pledge to Blog with Integrity
Posted on Oct 27, 2009 by Stephen Owens
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The news as of late has made a big deal about the amendments to the FTC's Endorsement Guides, as can be read in this cNet News article, with the news media focusing the one aspect of the changes and how it affects freebies for Bloggers who write reviews. Most of these reporters have missed a bigger point. The Endorsement Guides affects more than just Blogs. The actual scope of the new amendments could also carry over to boards and forums, social networking sites, Twitter, consumer product reviews left on eCommcerce sites, and for that matter any emerging communication technology.

Example 8 in the Endorsement Guides (view as PDF) gives a good example of the FTC's stance. It talks about a popular MP3 message board with discussions on playback hardware for MP3s. The community is unaware that an employee of the leading MP3 device manufacturer has been posting messages about how great the new device is. The idea here is that knowledge of the poster's employment can affect the credibility of the endorsement. Thus this relationship should be blatantly announced to the board's community members.

Disclose Your Company Relationships

In general it's just a good idea to disclose your employment when making comments about products your company manufacturers, distributes, or sells. I know in the forums I visit, when users post advertisements for products and it comes to light that it was an employee trolling the threads, the company usually takes a hit in credibility with those forum members. Where as, an employee who is upfront about their employment, and actually engages in a discussion of their product, is viewed with some degree of respect for taking the time to answer questions and be part of the community discussion.

Disconnect of Old School Fat Cats and the Online Community

I personally think this is the big disconnect between the online community, and people from the old school print advertisement business world. Those old school guys just see the online world as cheap print advertisement, and try to flood everyone with everything they can. They just don't seem to care if they are upfront or hidden with their methods and motives. They also like buzz words like Twitter, and social networking, but don't have a clue about what it means to join in these communication channels. It isn't a one way street where they can just pound us with junk mail and advertisements in magazines, these new emerging technologies, and social networks, are tools for two way discussions.

My Advice for the Old School Fat Cats

My advice to the corporate buzz-word-centered-world is this, be upfront with your personal company relationships and join us in a discussion about your products. I for one will appreciate that more, than your sneaky ad spam techniques.

I don't care if you give free stuff to Bloggers. Keep it up. In fact give me some free stuff. Of course if you give me free stuff and it sucks balls, I'll tell people how you gave me free stuff that sucks balls. LOL. I'm so tired of cheap consumer grade crap.

Blog with Integrity

I personally have decided to sign the Blog with Integrity Pledge (www.blogwithintegrity.com). This pledge isn't going to change anything at Studio-Owens.com, because I have always done those things that the Pledge stands for.

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