I just watched a large Twitter account delete over 13,164 tweets because the account holder didn’t use an affiliate disclosure when promoting others’ products and services in exchange for commissions. The tweet deletes were a c.y.a. move designed to limit legal liability exposure.
That’s a shame because the tweets contained really good content, i.e. he gave out a lot of valuable content in the process of affiliate marketing.
And the sad thing is, he could have fixed the issue for any tweets he wanted to save. It would have taken just one call to an experienced Internet business lawyer to learn how to do it.
Affiliate Disclosure And Material Connections
Since December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines have been clear that material connections — including affiliate status — must be disclosed so that the prospective purchaser has the key facts necessary (including your potential bias) in order to make an informed decision whether or not to purchase a recommended product or service.
This covers all of your marketing online and offline to U.S. consumers.
Some online marketers mistakenly believe they only have to comply when promoting on their websites by using the right website legal documents.
That’s not true. Disclosure requirements cover emails, social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), etc.
Marketing To The U.S. From Other Countries
What’s interesting is a fellow marketer on Twitter responded to the guy deleting tweets by saying the FTC’s rules and regulations didn’t apply to the marketer because he was based in another country.
That’s another mistaken belief.
If you’re marketing to U.S. consumers from anywhere in the world, the FTC has the ability to go after you for false or deceptive marketing practices.
Does the federal government go after foreigners for bad marketing practices? Absolutely. In fact there have been spammers sent to federal prison for years for violating U.S. law even though they never stepped foot in the United States prior to being arrested in their home countries and extradited to the U.S. to stand trial.
Material Connections Are More Than Just Affiliate Status
And remember, it’s more than affiliate status that needs to be disclosed. It’s all material connections that a prospect should know about.
For example, if you’ve reached an agreement with another marketer to promote to each other’s Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or email lists, that material connection should be disclosed.