Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"I'm not a real user but I sell one online ..."

Unlike it's role in the Wall Street meltdown it helped orchestrate, once in a while the FTC does something intelligent ... and perhaps benefits us all! With the online world Tweeting like there's no tomorrow (a scenario many films like "2012" want you to believe), the FTC wants to rein in the blatant endorsement "free-for-some" that is clogging the Internet pipes.

Advertising is fee based promotion ... and subsidized or paid endorsements clearly fall into that category. The blurring of personal and professional lines around online social media has been based on novelty and curiousity. As the Internet emerges as a measurable communications channel with actualized new revenue forms it must take on more mature responsibilities.

The FTC has now set regulations that the online community better pay attention to. One of the greatest threats to the warm public embrace of "social networking" is fee based messages and endorsements. Just like in "real life" (and this is ours, don't forget) when someone I know and respect tells me about a product or service ... I listen and respond. When I sense an opinion is shaped by profit in any form ... all bets are off.

Experience teaches the difference between friends and "associates". My extended social network consists of many who are "friendly" but are not friends. I certainly would not regard advise from paid associates in the same manner as unpaid. iMediaConnection's paid Facebook "friends" and SponsoredTweets (which at least is exactly what it says) will quickly pull the plug on a belief that a lot of people are worth listening to. Filtering will follow.

For now I'll just be glad to see a more honest tone by many "influencers" and a transparancy to the sponsors of their messages.