Tag Archives: FTC

FTC updates rules for bloggers and social media

If you are using your blog or twitter or other social media to sell or promote stuff you should read the new update, where the FTC addresses the many questions since the new vague regulations last December. Read that here:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/adv/bus71.shtm

If you’re not aware, The FTC is the United States Federal Trade Commission and they are basically responsible for protecting consumers from predatory or deceptive marketing tactics.  e.g. smoking is safe and healthy! is a lie and as much as the tobacco industry might  like to say that to sell more, they can’t and it’s the FTC among others who try to keep things clean.

The FTC have been in existence for much longer than the internet, 1914 to be exact.   The underlying law hasn’t changed much in intent: Protect Consumers.     The rise of the internet new forms of marketing and distribution (e.g. blogging and twitter) have arisen and the regulations have had to be updated as there hasn’t been anything quite like them before. e.g. what can you say in a tweet of 140 characters?

Last year that updated the regulations to cover flogs (fake blogs), with fake testimonials, and also for normal popular bloggers that were getting free products, cash or other compensation for doing a review of a product.  If you have kids you can imagine how you learn to trust a fellow mom or dad to give objective advise, if they were a Schill, you should be aware that their motive for telling you about a product might be tainted with their desire to make money from it.

The problem for marketers/affiliates was that they FTC were pretty vague about what they actually wanted, and what the consquences were.  This lack of information allowed all sorts of hype and myths to arise.    This was so intimidating that many major courses chose to lauch early to bypass the regulation, and after the passing many pro bloggers adopted either a wait and see attitude to let other less cautions people get sued by the FTC first, or went hogwild with disclaimers bigger than the core message they were trying to deliver.

FTC they listened and compiled the common questions an answered them in that new post, that is a much saner picture, They aren’t a Big Brother watching every blog, if you get something wrong they aren’t going to take your first born, and will take problems case by case.

So if you are selling or promoting anything on the internet, please read it for your own protection. It’s a single page.  Read it here.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/adv/bus71.shtm

FTC Compliance, You and Me

PREFACE: The following should not be construed as legal advice, and I strongly encourage you to get your own legal council to review these new FTC regulations’s impact in your business.

Imagine tooling around the home office, then getting a polite knock on the door and being handed 7 pounds of paperwork by an apologetic clerk, that basically say:

About what 7 pounds of FTC paper looks like...they deliver!
About what 7 pounds of FTC paperwork looks like...plus they deliver direct to your doorstep!

“Dear You.

YOU ARE SCREWED.

Sincerely,

the FTC.”

That’s what it’s really like according to Frank Kern in his very candid story on the matter., Get this…despite doing nothing particularly wrong! It doesn’t matter…the FTC is not prone to backing down.

The FTC’s tossing some major changes down the pipe for internet marketers, especially those blogging and using testimonials. You should prepare to be transparent about basically everything you are doing. Like how good your products are for *average users* when you use testimonials, and when you are getting paid for promotion. If you don’t, the FTC is not kind, there is rarely polite warnings, and they can seize your business (or ALL your businesses) with all it’s assets (and they don’t give it back). It’s happened to Frank Kern and to Perry Belcher, and it can happen to you if you don’t play by their rules.

Read these links from major news and major gurus with high priced legal council, also read the comments many are insightful. Seriously get a qualified legal advisor. Also understand that if you are providing real value these can be a serious win for you!

Straight from the FTC’s mouth

Here’s the official documentation from the FTC you should understand (these links thanks to ZenGlen)

On page 60+ there are specific examples.

Page 22-23 refer to the part Frank talked about regarding use of testimonials.

Also this is another one.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,560501,00.html

The Guru’s Comments

Frank Kern’s very clear take, and many great comments
John Reese  take

My take, is …the FTC’s rules are somewhat amorphous as to what average use is, especially if you understand test taking and statistics.

  • An average reader never reads more than 10% of a book, your failure as an author?
  • Is a case study of yourself or a client considered a testimonial or something else.?
  • With split testing is that a fact or an opinion?

Good questions to ask your legal council skilled in FTC.   I’ll be asking mine shortly.

I’m Coming Clean…

As a part of that, I’m Following ProfitMoffat’s excellent lead, about the nature of this blog.

Assume if you ever buy anything off this or my other websites, or anything I ever talk about, I get paid! Directly ( Sometimes 50% or more! ) and/or indirectly (as in getting leads, traffic, more happiness etc). Occasionally I review products and services without compensation because they are necessary to be in business (so had to have them, think you would benefit from using them), and I genuinely like using them, or genuinely dislike using them, but assume the former.

And when I make that money, I spend it:  Typically on a steady supply of guinness + hot water for showers and black tea, and fun stuff, often with a geek bent, like eventually a space trip on Virgin Galactic.  Of course I also use the money in conventional ways, rent, to pay bills, with a significant bill each month  building better tools for myself and yall.

I hope that’s all cool with ya’ll, if not please discontinue reading my blog or using the links on this site.

Also while getting out in the open, while I may look like one in the videos, I am not a lawyer or doctor, license carrying engineer, psychologist, or carrying any sort of credentials. The writings on this website are my personal opinions and while they work for me,  may horribly fail for you. By following the advice on this blog you accept the related risk. Consider yourself warned.

If you ever have a problem with the content or myself, please contact me (by twitter or commenting on this blog),  I always aim to treat people fair and square.

What this means for you

This is GOOD news.  Just like how the Wild West isn’t so wild anymore and you have no fear of being scalped by indians, the internet is starting to get settled.  It does feel like a loss of freedom and opportunity as the rules and regulations on the net will be just like the real world (business licenses etc), there are still massive opportunities not possible anywhere else.

Just like being able to walk aobut without fear of being robbed or murdered are a good thing these rules are towards a better world if you are a consumer or a merchant.  Since we are all consumers,  As a consumer you will certainly benefit from more honesty and transparency in marketing.

As a merchant, if you survived the google slap, you know  providing solid value you will soon have less competition and should have nothing to fear from the FTC…that is if you know the rules and follow them.   If you aren’t providing solid value then you wouldn’t last that long anyway …one way or another, eventually you will have an honest competitor who will at the end of the day take better care of the community.  The choice is yours, so  rock on!

Troy.