User generated content (UGC) is in the news again. The FTC set its sights on fashion giant Cole Haan and their use of testimonials and endorsements in a recent promotion on Pinterest.
ReadyPulse has studied this incident to always stay in or above compliance with the FTC so their valued brand partners and ambassadors can share on social in confidence. Here are the key take-aways:
Organic vs. Paid Promotion
The question centered on two points: 1) is a Pin on Pinterest an endorsement; and 2) is the possibility of a prize a “material connection” between the user and the brand such that consumers should be put on notice of the connection?
Getting your customers to post user generated content about your brand or products is a fantastic way to show authenticity and adoption. Where brands need to place new focus on is whether this uploading is, in any way, connected to a chance of gain. That gain can be in the form of products, services, back in cash or cash equivalent.
Policing this can be unruly. The FTC, in its closing letter, gave brands some useful guidelines to follow when running a promotion on social:
- Address requirements to properly disclose the brand/poster relationship in your promotion rules and social media policy;
- Clearly state the duration of your promotion and manage that as it is stated in the promotion announcement; and
- Any promotion should also require the poster/entrant to follow the brand’s promotion rules with respect to acceptable hashtag disclosures on whatever form of posting occurs in the public domain.
So, how do you stay compliant while displaying UGC? The key to staying compliant is to be transparent and not mislead consumers.
6 Steps to Staying Compliant
1. Read what the FTC has to say.
2. Leverage opt-in brand ambassadors.
3. Ask the user’s permission to use their photo.
4. Display the name of the user you received the content from.
5. Clearly disclose or label how you obtained the content.
6. Show verification that the user agreed to let you display their content.
For more information on publishing UGC in full compliance, read The Savvy Brand’s Guide to Legal Risk in Content Marketing.