SOURCE: The Word of Mouth Marketing Association

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association

May 25, 2010 09:00 ET

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association Offers Digital Social Media Ethics and Endorsement Policy Template

New Tool May Help Marketers and Lawyers Craft Social Media Policies

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - May 25, 2010) - The Word of Mouth Marketing Association today released its Digital Social Media and Endorsement Policy template to help word of mouth marketers develop their own social media policies that guides relationships between endorsers and the companies they represent.

"It is our hope this tool can be used by marketers as a starting point with their legal experts to craft progressive social media policies that balance marketing and legal needs," said Paul M. Rand, president of WOMMA and president/CEO of the Zócalo Group. "This template allows companies to insert their own name and company-specific information to create a policy that helps them adhere to the culture of transparency the online and social media world demand."

Rand pointed out that endorsers can be held personally liable by third parties for any commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, libelous, or harmful. The new guidelines help companies put in place their own policies that can prevent this, he said.

The template provides 10 Standard of Conduct principles for word-of-mouth marketers to follow, from "endorsers may only make statements that reflect their honest beliefs, opinions, or experiences;" to "endorsers may not use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or other offensive language."

The WOMMA Social Media and Endorsement Policy template also emphasizes the need to disclose relationships between endorsers and companies.

According to the template policy, "Endorsers must disclose all material connections to a Company in all advertising messages and promotional communications concerning Company and/or its products or services, when it is not already apparent to the reasonable consumer that a material connection exists between Company and Endorsers."

Rand said that the policy describes a "material connection" as one that could influence the weight or credibility a reasonable consumer would give to the communications or messages made by the endorser.

"Often these considerations are in the form of cash, prizes, discounts or other incentives," he said. The template recommends that endorsers disclose material connections as well as the form of the consideration given to them and the relationship between them and the company.

The new WOMMA template policy is an extension of the work the association has done to create ethical policies for online marketers. The template serves as a companion to WOMMA's Guidelines for Social Media Disclosure meant to help bloggers.

"WOMMA is committed to providing leadership on key ethics issues facing WOM marketers," Rand said. WOMMA has worked closely with the FTC and FDA to help those agencies draft disclosure and ethics guidelines to help a wide range of companies and organizations navigate the sometimes murky waters of online marketing.

WOMMA,, is the leading trade association in the marketing and advertising industries that focuses on word of mouth, consumer-generated and social media platforms including marketing techniques such as buzz, viral, community, and influencer marketing, as well as brand blogging. The organization is committed to developing and maintaining appropriate ethical standards for marketers, identifying meaningful measurement standards and defining "best practices" for the industry.

Founded in 2004, WOMMA has approximately 300 member companies. They include marketers and brands that use word-of-mouth marketing to reinforce their core customers and to reach out to new consumers, agencies that deliver word-of-mouth services and technologies, researchers that track the word-of-mouth experience and offline and online practitioners.

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