Andy Sernovitz: “Social Media Ethics Briefing: Staying Out of Trouble” — Live from BlogWell

3:10 — Andy begins his presentation on social media ethics and how to keep your brand out of trouble.

3:12 — Andy: If you’ve ever been to one of our events before, you know you’re going to get a word of mouth and social media ethics talk. We do this because our entire business is based on trust.

3:13 — Andy: To be successful in social media, you’ve got to earn the trust and respect of your community.

3:15 — Andy describes how ethics isn’t an optional part of your program, nor is it something you add later. Rather, it’s where you start.

3:15 — Andy: The biggest idea here is: Disclosure. PayPerPost and shilling and fake reviews are all issues of disclosure.

3:16 — Andy: The ten magic words are the start of every social media disclosure program: I work for [company], and this is my personal opinion.

3:17 — The three key questions of disclosure are: 1. Who are you? 2. Were you paid? 3. Is it your real opinion?

3:19 — Andy: The one thing that’s always wrong is asking someone to write a review about something they’ve never tried or experienced. This is something that’s always been illegal and has never been allowed. This isn’t a matter of opinion, this isn’t social media experts engaging in a debate — the law says you can’t do this.

3:20 — Andy: If you walked into your office and told your boss, “Hey I want to pay a bunch of reporters to plant fake stories,” you’d get fired.

3:21 — Andy: How to stay safe:

1. Never pay

2. Always disclose

3. Ads look like ads

4. Audit

3:22 — Andy: A great safe place to be is that ads should look like ads.

3:23 — Andy: The biggest risk is failing to train your team. Most companies don’t set out to do stealth marketing. But what happens is you’ve got the junior executive who doesn’t go to social media conferences and thinks they’re helping. But it only takes one person doing something stupid that embarrasses the national brand.

3:25 — Andy’s steps:

1. Create a formal disclosure policy

2. Create a formal training policy

3. Hold your agencies accountable to meet or beat your standards

3:26 — Andy describes how the Social Media Business Council created their disclosure policy, and how anyone can download it, tweak it, and use it for themselves.

3:27 — Andy: There are six big concepts of disclosure you need to figure out:

1. Dislcosure of identity

2. Personal / unofficial blogger outreach

3. Blogger relations

4. Compensation and incentives

5. Agency and contractor disclosure

6. Creative flexibility

3:27 — Andy: We’re here at the very beginning of this. As the leaders and pioneers of this, the rules that we set are going to define social media forever. I feel very passionate about that because about ten years ago, we had the chance to do this with email. Nobody stepped up and said no, and bit-by-bit, it just got worse and worse until we just couldn’t put it back in the box.

3:28 — Andy: This is our chance to not let the bad stuff ruin such a wonderful new medium we created.

3:30 — Andy: I call on you to hold the line. No fudging. Because if we lose this, it’s not coming back.

3:30 — Andy: Save your brand. Save your reputation. Save your job. I don’t know who wants to go to their boss with the idea that’s going to embarrass the company. Or what agency wants to be the one that embarrasses a client with it.

3:30 — Andy: Social media is worth defending.


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