Later today (12 EST), WOMMA (Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association) is sponsoring an open-conference call and briefing on the issue of "disclosure" in social media? This is an excellent opportunity to get educated on a very timely, relevant, and complex topic. It's also an opportunity to provide feedback on a just-released (yesterday) draft "Marketer Disclosure in Social Media" framework. Here is the context the document establishes for this exploratory.
Video sharing platforms, social networking sites and blogging tools are increasingly enabling real and trusted conversations between consumers -- and marketers are moving aggressively to become part of that conversation.
By its nature, "social media” is assumed to emanate from consumers who are unaffiliated with marketers. These communication channels also rely on deeply trusted relationships among consumers. Therefore, marketers must exert special care and attention when using this media to prevent any possibility of confusion or deception. Consumers must get enough information to understand what they are seeing and where it came from.
The draft document then proceeds to build on the foundation laid out in the initial WOMMA ethics code. The draft video guidelines note:
A foundational building block of that ethics code, which we believe is as relevant as ever to evolving social media, is what is known as the "Honesty ROI." This includes the following:
- Honesty of Relationship: You say who you're speaking for
- Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
- Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity
We especially call out the "honesty of identity" provision, which speaks most clearly to the new forms of social media that are quickly unfolding. "Disclosure of identity," the code notes, "is vital to establishing trust and credibility. We do not blur identification in a manner that might confuse or mislead consumers as to the true identity of the individual with whom they are communicating, or instruct or imply that others should do so."
The debate could not be more timely. All of these themes were hugely relevant in yesterday's online video panel at OMMA East, which my colleague Max Kalehoff chaired, and it's clear that there's both confusion and ambiguity around what we truly mean by "disclosure." As an industry we certainly are setting a high standard with our incessant use of the term "authenticity" -- which is a good thing, but it carries certain obligations and expectations. Anyway, this is a very important conversation. All are welcome to participate, and it's important to note that while WOMMA is serving as an initial catalyst of long-overdue discussion, the issue touches a far more diverse group of marketing stakeholders. More info here on the WOMMA call, and click here more context from this blog.