Sunday, 22 November 2009

Social Media 'Pimp' sells friends, fans & followers

It's human nature for a percentage of the community to want to rig the game; we've ranted before about pay-for-post middlemen before now there's a new social media pimp on the block - USocial.

These guys allow you to buy up to 100,000 'followers' on Twitter and up to 10,000 'friends' and 'fans' on Facebook.

Well that was the case until a couple of days ago, Facebook has said this service breaches its terms of service and served papers on uSocial, who in response has temporarily suspended its Facebook 'friends' service (but is still advertising its 'fans' service).

Also we're not sure how but it appears USocial has been collecting Facebook login information which is says it will now delete.

The company also claims to boost Twitter followers with several different offers, from 1,000 followers in a week for $87 to 100,000 within one year for $3,479. Surely we won't have to wait long for a response from Twitter.

It's suggested that you can market to these people (whoever they are, if they exist) and of course claim your company has more clout that it really does.

The 21st century equivalent of the direct mail list? Maybe so but somehow this practice seems both more personal AND even less connected and relevant, making it sadder and slightly grubby in the process.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

News Corp vs. the Google age. Guess who's going to lose

Murdoch may stop Google news searches. Really? :o)

The death of newsprint has been coming for years; it's interesting to see how newspapers are trying various tactics to monetize the shift to the Internet as the worlds of old marketing and news delivery crumble.

News Corp has previously mentioned charging for online access to news and now Rupert Murdoch has apparently said he believes search engines cannot legally use headlines and paragraphs of news stories as search results.

For someone used to leveraging a near-monopoly I think it's interesting he hasn't recognised he's met one far more powerful and this one's based on openness, not limit and control.

News Corp vs. the Google age. No prizes for guessing who's going to lose.

More from the BBC here

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

New FTC endorsement & testimonial guidelines, do they affect you?

The new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising come into effect on December 1st 2009. Any of us that work within the US, or with US organisations anywhere in the world will be impacted so please take note.

We have no definitive legal opinion yet however let's review the main points:

From a blogging perspective things are simple; clear disclosure of any material connection with a company/product/service mentioned is required.

The press release indicates these rules apply to Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers and Celebrity Endorsements; at the very least the new rules should be integrated into blogging guidelines (claims and full disclosure) and also claims-based advertising/marketing campaigns.

The large change is that it seems when making any claim one also needs to know what the generally anticipated outcome is; often easier said than done.

Taken from the press release:
‘Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.’

Imagine a diet DVD advert/press release/brochure claiming someone following the regime has lost 60 pounds. No issue in substantiating this however it could be that the generally anticipated outcome for diet regime DVDs is for them to be used once before becoming drinks coasters (probably for hot chocolate with marshmallows).

What we need to talk about is the generally anticipated outcome when the product is correctly implemented and I'm not sure how this is covered/differentiated in the new guidelines.

In summary
The blogging side is straightforward, other marketing activities less so. These new rules will impact any claims-based activity and therefore the need for rigorous case studies will increase.

Three questions still remain for me and I hope to be able to answer them soon:

1. How are advertising, websites, campaigns, events and press releases impacted?
2. Are case studies directly impacted? (specifically the collection/sign off of metrics)
3. Is there any increased liability for customers providing metrics in case studies?

The full guidelines are

This video from the FTC focuses on the blogging aspects of the endorsement guidelines.