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Courting Bloggers to Tout Your Products? Get Ready for More Content Marketing Disclosures If you're paying bloggers and others online for endorsements or testimonials, be prepared for these new disclosure rules in the making.

By Mikal E. Belicove

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Courting Bloggers to Tout Your Products Get Ready for More Content Marketing Disclosures

If you're doing content marketing and reaching out to bloggers and other social-media "influencers," get ready for more disclosure rules now in the offing.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is seeking comment on its updated Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guide before forwarding a final version to the Federal Trade Commission. The guide is meant to help businesses and bloggers comply with the FTC's Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The update, still in draft form, suggests marketers establish an in-house media policy so everyone -- advocates, agencies, partners, networks and vendors -- knows what the required disclosures entail in order to prevent false or misleading claims.

What's more, bloggers and other influencers -- would need to make sure their relationship with a marketer is publicly disclosed when making statements, reviews or endorsements about that marketer's product or service.

The proposed policy also recommends prominent placement of disclosures where consumers can readily access the content -- not buried deep in the content in a tiny point size -- and must be clearly stated.

Related: 5 Steps to Developing a Killer Content Marketing Strategy

The intent of the FTC's guidelines on endorsements and testimonials in advertising is to ensure that consumers know who's behind the marketing messages they receive online -- especially when such messages influence their purchasing decisions. The FTC requires both marketers (the advertisers) and advocates (those touting the product) to disclose any connections they may have among themselves. And that includes compensation in the form of money, gifts, loaner products, privileges, discounts and other considerations.

The update also extends its guidance beyond the usual social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to a variety of other outlets, including:

  • video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo
  • photo-sharing websites such as Flickr, Picasa and Pinterest
  • curated-content service providers such as Storify.com, Paper.li and Scoop.it
  • sponsored content
  • affiliate networks
  • referral networks
  • podcasts

To see the details, download WOMMA's Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guide (PDF). Submit your comments by June 28, to Word of Mouth here.

Related: BlogFrog and the Power of Moms

Corrections & Amplifications: An earlier version of this post misstated where comments on the draft should be directed. They can be posted to this Word of Mouth blog page.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. 

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