Social Media and Disclosures, Learning from the Hyundai Case

Hyundai avoided a collision with the Federal Trade Commission on the treacherous social media marketing course. The FTC suggested yesterday that its decision not to recommend enforcement action against Hyundai for a blogger outreach effort designed to build buzz around the brand’s Super Bowl XLV ads could be a lesson for marketers.

Three rules of thumb for social media marketers:

  1. Mandate a disclosure policy that complies with the law
  2. Make sure people who work for you or with you know what the rules are
  3. Monitor what they’re doing on your behalf

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Social Media, Ethics, Disclosures and FTC

Andy Sernovitz, shares his recommendations on how to stay safe and ethical in social media covering the latest FTC updates, the fundamentals of proper disclosure, and how to make sure your agencies and vendors comply with your standards.

Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit (PDF)

The days of low cost marketing on Facebook may be counted

It’s not a coincidence that Facebook first half profits doubled to $1.6B and the trend will likely accelerate.   Over the past few years Facebook has been slowly but steadily paving  the way for increased profitability

For the past three or so years, most of the changes Facebook has implemented have made it made it increasingly difficult for organization and brands to put their content in front of their “Fans” or as Facebook now calls them “Likes”

It started with the structure of the wall on profiles.  We first saw the wall being segregated in two sets of posts with the default view to what Facebook deemed most important to users to the last change in the past month.

The latest little known or noticed change in Facebook “Pages” has big implications.  As of September 30, 2011, Facebook stopped allowing pages to communicate to their “Fans” or as Facebook calls them “Likes” via messaging.

The feature that allowed page owners or administrators to send targeted messages into users’ inboxes has been removed, officially to , and i quote : ” connect with your audience in the most effective ways possible” which is through public communication on the wall.

So Facebook says.  In reality, it’s been a slow and calculated approach to remove free means of communications between pages and their followers and quoting facebook again, “using targeted Facebook Ads or Sponsored Stories to help grow and highlight your message within the Facebook experience“.

If the past is any indication, we can expect that Facebook will find more ways to curtail free interactions between pages and users as an incentive to use paid Facebook advertising, coming around full circle, back to traditional advertising, only this time with a captive audience…. of advertisers.

Goodbye Facebook Places

Less than a year after Facebook deployed “Places” to compete with Foursquare and Gowalla, Facebook is pulling the plug on Places over the next few weeks.

Despite its 750 million members, Facebook could not leverage its mass to make “places” work

Facebook Places never really got much traction compared to other self standing geolocalization platforms like Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla and other niche platforms.  Places though is not going the way of the dinosaurs, Facebook opted to integrate the localization feature directly in the post, on the wall.

The new feature will allow any user to tag locations in their posts.  They won’t need a smart phone or be near the place for that matter.  They will be able to use the feature from a computer, tablet or any other device giving them access to the internet using the “Places” icon at the bottom of the post

What does that mean for users.  As Facebook changed its aim from Foursquare to Groupon with the deployment of the Facebook “Deals”, we can expect a closer integration of “Deals” with the posts and more online offers.  Hopefully these offers will not clog the wall

Good news though, after the uproar on Facebook privacy settings and the bad habit Facebook had to make new features “opt-out”, Facebook seems to have listened to users and the location feature will be “opt-in”

Who knows, they may even start a new trend that will lead more companies to adopt the “opt-in” model rather that the “opt-out” model.

The changing internet

A March 2010 to March 2011 study from Silicon Alley Insider shows that the way people spend their time on the internet is rapidly changing and if you are not paying attention, your brand could become a victim.

The study shows a rapid increase (69%) in time spent on Facebook and a steady decrease (9%) in time spent on traditional websites shrunk by 9%

Social media has dramatically changed the way users look and think about the web, how they spend their time on the web and what they expect from the web

Does that mean  you should abandon your website?  No, but you should seriously think about how you use it and how you drive traffic to it.

If the trend persists, SEO will become less important and will progressively be replaced by social media.

Another recent study (May 2011) by Comscore looks at how users spend their time on social media sites like Facebook.  By the way, Facebook accounts for 90% of the time spent on all social media sites

  • 27% of their time is spent “consuming and interacting” on the newsfeed/wall
  • 21% on the profile section
  • 17% on the photo section

Interacting has become a big part of the web experience, experience delivered through social media sites.  What that means is if a brand or organization wants to keep their website relevant, they have to promote interaction.

How do you promote interaction on a website?  With a blog section, with comments and by integrating your site with social media platforms.