SOURCE: Word of Mouth Marketing Association

Word of Mouth Marketing Association

June 19, 2012 10:00 ET

Word of Mouth Marketing Association Seeks Public Comments for Updated Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guidelines

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Jun 19, 2012) - The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) today released a new draft version of disclosure guidelines for its member companies participating in social media marketing. Developed with extensive industry input, the guidelines are designed to provide marketers with clear and practical direction when engaging social media participants ("bloggers") in brand marketing initiatives.

WOMMA is working to finalize the most up-to-date version of its Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guidelines for both marketers and bloggers. The social media marketing disclosure guide is currently in a draft phase and will be open for public comments until June 28 and the new updated guidelines will be submitted shortly thereafter.

While WOMMA has had a long-standing Code of Ethics, the December 2009 release of the FTC Guidelines on Endorsements and Testimonials -- designed to promote absolute transparency and keep consumers informed -- spurred both marketers and bloggers to seek greater clarity and best practices for social media disclosure.

In 2008, WOMMA leadership responded to member demand for meaningful disclosures for social media marketing and, in early 2009, formalized best practices by engaging industry leaders, members, non-members, academics, and consumers.

The following are the key considerations taken into account for the latest updates:

  • Confusion around responsibilities of various stakeholders (Advertisers, Bloggers, Agencies, Vendors, Influencers)
  • Syndication of content across channels
  • New platform challenges
  • Updated guidance from the FTC
  • Updated guidance from other industry groups
  • Reasonable monitoring of disclosures and claims
  • Definitions and nomenclature
    • Advocate replaces Blogger
    • Marketer replaces Advertiser
    • Expand scope to encompass new platforms, programs and challenges
    • Define areas of concern (non-monetary incentives, promotions, etc.)

Social media is ever-changing, the WOMMA Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guide is a living document -- continuing to be refined to reflect evolving industry best practices. While the number of social media sites and platforms is continually increasing, many brands and agencies are implementing dynamic word-of-mouth marketing and social media programs online.

"Members of WOMMA rely on WOMMA to provide guidance with respect to issues of ethics and disclosure in their marketing efforts," said Tom Chernaik, Co-Chair of the WOMMA MEAP and CEO of CMP.LY. "In light of rapid changes in the space, it was clear that updated guidance was needed and the WOMMA Members Ethics Advisory Panel worked together to address this need. The market for word-of-mouth and social media programs is growing at an unprecedented rate and the need for ethics and disclosure in these programs has never been stronger."

Key online platforms covered in the WOMMA Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guide include, but are not limited to, blogs (eg., Blogger, Wordpress), microblogs (e.g., Twitter, Pinterest), online comments (e.g., Disqus), social networks (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, Hi5), video sharing websites (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo), photo sharing websites (e.g., Flickr, Picasa, Pinterest), curated content (,,, sponsored content, affiliate networks, referral networks and podcasts.

"The Federal Trade Commission recently held a workshop focused on disclosure challenges in social, digital and mobile channels," said Malcolm Faulds, Co-Chair of the WOMMA MEAP and SVP Marketing, BzzAgent, Inc. "WOMMA participated in this workshop and is providing updated guidelines to the community as part of that process. We look forward to feedback on this draft guidance from both the FTC and from companies who engage in word-of-mouth and social media marketing programs."

For additional information on the FTC's Best Practice Disclosure Requirements and WOMMA's full compliance recommendations, visit:


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

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