Companies have been supplying bloggers with free products in return for press, positive or otherwise. K-mart and Chris Brogan hooked up last December, for instance.
Now the FTC wants to regulate these instances to ensure consumers aren’t duped.
According to Financial Times:
Revised guidelines on endorsements and testimonials by the Federal Trade Commission, now under review and expected to be adopted, would hold companies liable for untruthful statements made by bloggers and users of social networking sites who receive samples of their products.
The main target of the new guidelines appears to be the widespread practice of viral marketing in which companies recruit non-employees to talk up products in exchange for samples or promotions.
Spending on social media marketing reached $1.35bn in 2007 and is expected to reach $3.7bn by 2011, according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.