Social Media for Attorneys – FTC to Regulate Paid Endorsements

/ Quinlan/ 10/07/2009

Kevin Quinlan, accomplished law firm marketer discusses how new Federal Trade Commission regulations will impact Internet users by creating a more trustworthy environment so that they can rely more on consumer opinions and testimonials on social media and websites.

In a move that is seen as long coming by many and government interference by others, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has unanimously voted to update its guidelines regulating endorsements by bloggers and require disclosure of any “material connection” to a marketer which includes payments or free products/services for their endorsement. The guidelines become effective December 1, 2009.

The FTC is tasked with overseeing consumer protection by preventing unfair business competition and “unfair and deceptive acts or practices.” Although they have been involved in a variety of regulation, including telemarketing, pay-per-call (900 numbers) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the FTC has not updated its rules on endorsement and testimonials in advertising in nearly 30 years.

While these new rules also include liability for celebrity endorsements on social media sites or even mentions in interviews when statements are false, misleading or do not include results that consumers would “generally expect,” the application of these rules on bloggers will have significant impact on a public that can now publish their own opinions without the use of traditional media. These social media guidelines are fundamentally similar to those currently applied to traditional media.

As reported by a Nielsen Online consumer survey of over 25,000 Internet users in 25 countries, 70% of respondents trusted consumer opinions posted online. These new regulations may go a long way towards increasing the trust factor, making testimonials on social media sites and optimized law firm testimonial videos on firm websites, YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites even more compelling.

As consumers become more reliant on web-based opinions, testimonials and law firm web videos can provide the information that positions your firm as an authority and the boost provided could be the difference between converting a new case and missing out.

For more information on social media for lawyers, web videos or SEO for lawyers, contact Kevin Quinlan.

Press Release Contact Information:

Kevin Quinlan Phone: 561.313.7410