Honesty in Buzz and Viral Marketing

WOMMA: Word of Mouth Marketing Association

I’m bummed I missed this call by WOMMA to address the issue of disclosure in marketing initiatives focused on social media and viral. Call it the Lonelygirl13 effect, but I think the days of sneaky viral — kicked off by the Subservient Chicken are behind us. Fingerskilz, the Lenovo Tapes are examples of PC vendors releasing viral without overtly tagging it as a corporate campaign. Is that wrong? Would it impede the spread? Probably. But the tide has turned and people are quoting the Who, “We won’t get fooled again.

Those tactics — hiding the origin of a campaign, sockpuppeting, etc. — done.

From the WOMMA notice:

“A foundational building block of that ethics code, which we believe is as relevant as ever to evolving social media, is what is known as the “Honesty ROI.” This includes the following:* Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
* Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
* Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

We especially call out the “honesty of identity” provision, which speaks most clearly to the new forms of social media that are quickly unfolding. “Disclosure of identity,” the code notes, “is vital to establishing trust and credibility. We do not blur identification in a manner that might confuse or mislead consumers as to the true identity of the individual with whom they are communicating, or instruct or imply that others should do so.”

Thanks to ConsumerGeneratedMedia.com for the pointer. 

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