BlogWell: How Big Brands Use Social Media is an amazing series of events presented by that features 8 great case studies in corporate social media. To learn more, visit

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In his BlogWell Los Angeles ethics briefing,'s CEO, Andy Sernovitz, shared his recommendations on how to stay safe and ethical in social media.

Andy covered the latest FTC updates, the fundamentals of proper disclosure, and how to make sure your agencies and vendors comply with your standards.

Below is live coverage of this session by Garick Chan:

— Andy says it’s all about trust. The fundamental things stay the same. Yes, there are some standards and universal truths that will stay the same.

— Andy: No amount of money and no amount of marketing matters if you’ve broken your customer’s trust.

— Andy: The difference between honesty and sleazery is DISCLOSURE.

— Andy: Yes, it is the law that companies must disclose their standards and practices. Make sure to get legal advice from your legal team, don’t just listen to your “social media dude.”

— Andy shares Three Guides for Safe Social Media Outreach:

-Require disclosure and truthfulness in social media outreach.
-Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.
-Create social media policies and training programs.

— Andy: Disclosure is as easy as one simple phrase for your influencers/bloggers such as, “Hey, I’m working with… ”

— Andy: Be sure to monitor those that might speak about your brand. If you notice that they haven’t disclosed, it’s the company’s responsibility to nudge them gently about ethical obligations.

— Andy Sernovitz is not a lawyer, but he’s seen one on tv. He advises to: Never pay, submit real disclosure, and don’t lie to your mom. Basically, be clear and conspicuous to where your disclosure is apparent to the average reader.

— Andy: Here are some more details on how to disclose and what to disclose:

-Who you are
-Whether or not you were paid
-Is your story an honest opinion based on a real experience?

— Andy: So what’s the biggest risk? Training failure. Be wary of fresh graduates without much experience in addition to agencies pitching “slime”. Be wary of the “Just do it” attitude that is prevalent in social media.

— Andy: FTC has stated that if you have a good social policy and have trained all of your employees about the rules then they will forgive a rogue representative.

— Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit> Checklists for every situation on

— Andy: Be careful who you hire. Yes, if you hire a social media agency and they outsource to another agency with less than scrupulous practices, YOU ARE STILL LIABLE. If your company wrote the check, then yes; you’re responsible.

— Andy: It’s time to raise the standards. Let your audience know, “We don’t cheat, we don’t pay people to lie for us. We don’t make our ads look like blog-posts or make our representatives look like independent agents. ”

— Tell your friends, tell your company.. if you have to ask, the answer is no. It’s easier to be honest. Pass it on.

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