Food, the FTC and the Risks of Social Media Promotions


Social media platforms offer food and other CPG companies a host of new, creative ways to engage with consumers and generate brand experiences, especially on strongly visual platforms like Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram. But a recent FTC investigation of a contest on Pinterest offers a cautionary tale regarding the necessary disclosures the FTC wants for social media contests and promotions—especially when consumer use of the brand, brand name, or images of the branded product are required for entry. Though the FTC ultimately issued a “closing letter” without further action—in part because the company under investigation changed its social media policy for contests—the details of the contest and the FTC’s responses to it provide great insights into “how to” (and how not to) use social media to conduct brand contests and promotions.

A “Pin It to Win It” World -

Pinterest has become a popular social media outlet for companies to promote their brands among the sites users who “pin” images and other media together on “boards” that show ideas for different projects and interests. Many companies have made contests and sweepstakes an important part of their Pinterest strategy and “Pin It to Win It” is now a part of Pinterest culture. Instagram and Vine—which offer different ways for consumers to share and comment on visual images— also frequently feature platform-specific promotions and contests. (So do “older” social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where contest entry often only requires a “like” or a “retweet”).

Originally Published on Food Manufacturing - June 2, 2014.

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