FTC Internet Marketing | What YOU Need to Know

Social media has brought internet marketing to an entirely new level in 2011, and 2012 is expected to bring even more networking surprises. Online marketing has also caught on to the popularity of infographics, email marketing, and QR Codes. This has caused many small businesses to shift their focus away from most business proposals and onto internet marketing. In addition, many people have begun to tap into the business of blogging. Not only has blogging and blog creation become a way to utilize social media, but it has given hope to those who suffer from such an up-and-down economy and the lack of small business grants and small business loan availability. Although this is all very promising, many companies are unfortunately forgetting about the FTC and the FTC Internet Marketing Guidelines.

For those who are unfamiliar, FTC stands for “Federal Trade Commission) which is simply a US Government Agency designed to protect the consumer from unfair business practices and/or false advertising. Therefore, the FTC internet marketing laws are ones not to be missed by any business hoping to advertise or publish content in the US (even if you don’t live in the US or hold a citizenship). Unfortunately, this can be easy for a new business owner to forget because no one gives you a warning. You can go about your business on the Internet for a long time before the FTC internet marketing laws come back to charge you. In the end, this will be much more expensive than any money you make from your online business.

If you are utilizing online marketing but are unsure about the FTC internet marketing laws, don’t get nervous just yet. There is always time to turn around your business to keep it legal. Consider a few of the things your business must do in order to avoid any legal trouble with the FTC:

Stay in the Good Graces of the FTC Internet Marketing  Laws

The FTC will rule your website or your online marketing campaigns as “deceptive” if it misleads consumers and then affects the consumers’ behavior or decision about the product or service you’re trying to sell. If your company is found to be deceptive, you can also be considered unfair if you’re misleading leads to an outcome that is not reasonably avoidable or leads to a decision that is not offset by other benefits. This can be done in several ways:

  • False Testimony—If someone who has never used your product or service endorses the product through an online marketing medium, you have given a false testimony. This is legal if you state in the campaign that the reviewer has not used to the product or service, but is otherwise not tolerated by the FTC internet marketing laws.
  • False Demonstrations—If your company tries to use video to show how a product works (a great online marketing outlet) but does not show the product under normal use, this is illegal according to the FTC.
  • Refunds and Promises—If you promise a refund, you have to follow through if a customer is unhappy.
  • False Outcome—If your company says you will get an outcome that is unrealistic (even if one person did get that outcome), this is illegal. For example, if you say you can lose 50 pounds in one week, the FTC will certainly find you deceptive.

If you are found doing something illegal according the FTC internet marketing standards, you will be charged in differently ways depending on the offense. However, claiming you “didn’t know” will usually not work because false facts and promises are usually fairly obvious. If the FTC thinks that you should have known something was false, you could be looking at a long court trial.

As I stated before, many companies ignore FTC internet marketing standards because no one gives them a warning. Well, consider this your warning! There are things you can do to make sure your business thrives without tricking customers into false beliefs, and in the long run this will make you more money than the former.

Photo Credit: instructables.com

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to document management. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including toll free numbers to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business B2B Directory, Business.com.

Jonathan Hawkins

Jonathan Hawkins

Jonathan Hawkins is founder and CEO of Topoftheburg. Since a young age he has been involved in website design and search engine marketing for business owners. at Topoftheburg, LLC
Jonathan Hawkins
Jonathan Hawkins
Jonathan Hawkins

Comments are closed.