Disclosure Is The Key

us-federal-trade-commission-logoRecently an advertising agency learned a hard lesson about social media promotion: Disclosure is the key.

The FTC recently settled with Interpublic’s Deutsch LA advertising agency and  Sony over claims the companies engaged in deceptive marketing during the launch of Sony’s hand held PlayStation Vita gaming console.

The lesson should not be lost on any marketer.

According to the complaint, one of the agency’s assistant account executives sent an email asking the agency’s staff to help promote the PlayStation Vita ad campaign by posting positive comments about the console on Twitter using the hashtag #gamechanger.

Deutsch LA employees posted tweets promoting PlayStation Vita without disclosing their connection to the agency or Sony.

According to the FTC these tweets were misleading because they didn’t reflect the views of actual consumers-users.

Agencies have to exercise a lot of caution when talking about a client’s work on social media, though best practices in that area aren’t always well codified, said David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer at digital agency MRY.

“This will be a wake-up call for agencies in terms of how they communicate work they have in market and what they encourage employees to do,” Mr. Berkowitz said.

It’s not the first time the FTC intervenes against agencies for deceptive marketing and it’s not likely to be the last and they will not stop at tweets.

The FTC is clear o that matter (and further clarified recently), marketers when they post on social media must disclose and consideration whether financial or in products and must disclose their connection to the agency, client or marketer.
What that means is that the poster must disclose if they work for the agency or the brand, they must disclosed if they have been paid or received free products or have received the service for free as a consideration to write and post about the product or service

In social media more than any other form of PR or advertising transparency is the key to keeping regulators at bay, to ensure brand integrity and to keep consumers trust.

Stopping Spam in LinkedIn Discussion Groups

Stopping Spam in LinkedIn Discussion GroupsWe all know spam has become a plague in LinkedIn discussion groups and the big challenge for most owners is stopping spam in LinkedIn discussion groups.

I a previous post, I showed how to spot fake LinkedIn profiles, usually created for the sole purpose of spamming.  Spotting them and banning them is one of the steps you can take to help manage the problem.  LinkedIn gives us other tools to help us and if you know them and know how to use them, you can help make the group discussion a much better experience for your users and stem the flow of users leaving because of the spam. Continue reading

4 Reasons Industrial Marketers Should Adopt Social Media

industrial marketersEven if studies have shown that, so far, industrial professionals have been a relatively passive social media audience, their presence and social media usage is far from negligible.

In a recent study, “2014 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector,”  IHS GlobalSpec found that 44% of technical professionals spend more than an hour per week on social media for work-related activities.

The study indicates that technical professionals maintain social media profiles on LinkedIn (74%), Facebook (61%) and Twitter (17%).

In addition, 47% of them spend time on LinkedIn reading product or industry news while 26% research suppliers.

69% of technical professionals with a Facebook profile follow businesses or groups within their industry and 38% research or read work-related content.

These statistics are far from negligible and show that industrial marketers need to take a serious look and consider integrating social media in their marketing mix.

The return may not be immediate and as high as their other more traditional marketing initiative but the potential is there for those who get early on on the bandwagon.

  1. At a time when traditional marketing vectors are crowded and customers/prospects are bombarded with messages and ads, social media is still a relatively virgin territory in industrial markets
  2. Social media allows them to find, identify, reach influencers like industry analysts, consultants and other industry thought-leaders
  3. Through social media they can connect and build relationships with influencers
  4. Social media is the medium of choice of the new generations, reaching them is key to future growth

Six Ways To Detect Fake LinkedIn Profiles

How_to_detect_a_fake_LinkedIn_profileBefore we look at the six ways to detect fake LinkedIn profiles, it’s important to understand the driving force behind these profiles and the main reason is spamming.

Spamming has been around for a long time, first via email and as blogs started proliferating, spammers started polluting blogs, it was only a question of time before they  started polluting social media platforms

Coming back to LinkedIn, two of the best way to get maximum exposure on LinkedIn are growing your network or participating in large, active discussion groups.  Both imply creating a profile and since spammers learn early on that to effectively spam, they needed many identities, in case they were filtered out.

Over the past few years, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of fake profiles created by spammers either joining discussion groups or asking to join users networks, they usually target large active discussion groups and/or users with large networks, especially LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) who are not too selective in growing their network and allow spammers to develop their network based on first and second degree connections.

Of course, there are a number of ways to stop them, the first one is to be selective in who you accept in your network, the second is for group owners to be more proactive in monitoring who joins their groups and to not fall into the temptation to grow the size of their group at the expense of the quality of the discussion. Continue reading

How To Report Fake or Misleading LinkedIn Profiles

How to report fake or misleading LinkedIn profiles has become an increasingly difficult endeavor.

How To Report Fake or Misleading LinkedIn ProfilesIn a previous post, I wrote about how pervasive fake profiles are on LinkedIn and how difficult LinkedIn makes it to report them, for good reasons, they stopped caring a long time ago about the quality of user experience to focus on growing user numbers ( regardless of legitimacy) prior to their IPO

Another issue, when you created and think you “own” a business or brand page, is controlling who shows up as an employee on your page and that can have implications when it comes to your brand and/or reputation.  It turns out you do not control that information.

In any case, finding a way to contact what LinkedIn calls “customer service” has become a feat in itself, but the response is probably as frustrating as trying to contact them.

There is however an easier way to report a fake profile, if you look in the right place but you have to dig into the user’s profile in places you would not think about right off the bat, here are the steps Continue reading

FDA Social Media Guidance Controversy

FDAUnder the new FDA social media guidance, manufacturers would be responsible for monitoring their social media platforms for comments considered inaccurate, misleading or related to non approved or off label use.

They would also be liable when third party websites they have collaborated with publishes or do not filter articles, posts, ads or comments considered inaccurate, misleading or related to non approved or off label use.

All three major industry trade associations – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) warn FDA of significant flaws in the agency’s proposed regulations on the use of social media.

Their contention being that information and comments published online by third party comes under the first amendment and they should not have to monitor, correct or remove them even if they are misleading

The first amendment argument has been widely used to justify misleading information in non regulated industries but in the healthcare industry, misleading information, even by third party can have wide ranging consequences on the health of patients, raise false hope and create undue pressure by ill patients on doctors. Continue reading

Facebook Cut Posts Reach Now What?

Facebook Cut Posts Reach Now What?

In the past few year we have seen Facebook cut post reach several time.  We can expect other companies to follow suit and artificially cut the organic reach of the posts brands and businesses publish on their page.

A couple of years ago Facebook announced that posts only reached 16% of a page followers, last October the average reach dropped to around 8% and it is predicted that before long, 2 to 3% reach will be the norm… Unless brands and businesses start to pay up.

You spent a lot of time, energy and invested a lot of money building a big fan base on you social media pages and now you find out that your fans are not yours but the social media company’s, they have been cutting the organic reach of your posts and now they want you to pay to reach them. It’s called “Pay for Play”.

That’s a tough awakening but not surprising, in time, most of them will become digital advertising platforms and less and less social.  The writing has been on the wall for sometime now.

These platform were not purely social, they were tools to collect information and what do you do with information, you leverage it to generate revenue and now that they are publicly traded, they are pressured to generate revenue and profit.  It’s business

Facebook has probably been the most obvious but make no mistake, it’s only the beginning, the others will follow

So what do you do? 

You don’t put all your eggs in the same basket and when I say basket, I mean social media.  As a rule, and that applies to blogs as well, you don’t build a presence focusing on a platform you do not own or control. Continue reading