It is easy to forget that social media is really a form of advertising, and therefore, subject to federal and state laws and regulations, as well as industry guidelines. In contrast to traditional advertising, which involves the one-way transmittal of content to a target audience, social media is an interactive, usually public conversation between a company and its audience. The interactive, real-time nature of these conversations limits company control of posted content and can present a risk to a company’s reputation and brand. Despite the myriad risks — legal and reputational — social media marketing is both highly effective and, in today’s culture, crucial to most companies’ sales and marketing efforts. Implementing a well-drafted social media policy and a comprehensive monitoring and compliance program can help minimize the risks and promote success.
Tweety Bird: [singing and swinging in his cage] I’m a tweet wittle birdie in a gilded cage … I’m safe in there from that ole puddy tat. ©Warner Bros. 1950
Companies of all sizes — from Fortune 100s to small, privately held businesses in every industry — are reaching out to their existing and potential customers, tweeting, texting and posting on social media pages to promote brand awareness and to accomplish marketing and advertising goals previously dependent on TV, radio and print advertising. Consumers are not just targets of social media advertising; they are also participants in its creation and distribution. But unlike Tweety Bird, social media tweeters — and the companies and brands they promote — are not protected by any “gilded cage.”
Originally published in the ACC Docket - November 2013 edition.
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