Marketing is a profession that is constantly changing and oftentimes, with changes come new rules and regulations. Unfortunately for most businesses and marketing managers, the legalities of marketing aren’t always thought of unless there is a legal team in place to dove out the basics.
The truth is – marketing has elements that are legal and that are not legal. Understanding these basics can protect you in the long run and it can prevent your business from drifting into dangerous waters with the law. To best equip you, below is an overview of legal issues and concerns that you should have when developing your next marketing campaign.
Gathering Raw Data
According to an article in Computing by a legal professional, one of the most common pitfalls of marketing campaigns is that the data gathered isn’t always data that should be collected. More and more companies are collecting data that is relevant but also wholly private.
By gathering private data and information that is personal to the consumer, the company has a duty to ensure the safety of that data. Therefore, the next time your company develops its next business marketing campaign and needs to collect data, it is imperative to make sure that the data collection systems are secure and safe.
A breach in data can not only cost your brand its reputation, but also trust by customers. Both the federal government and the state also have their own sets of data protection laws. These laws inform businesses about the ethics they need to maintain when gathering and using data that belongs to customers.
Social Media Marketing Campaigns
Social media marketing campaigns are a highly effective in promoting your brand, engaging customers, gathering interest, and building meaningful relationships with those who buy your product. However, sometimes a social media campaign can go terribly wrong, especially if the marketing manager didn’t consider whether action on social media was legal.
Recently, a well-known company decided to interact with its users by requesting users on its social media account to show how “they rock their edible bling.” While perhaps an innocent gesture at first, the request on the company’s social media account that was intended to generate interest and interactivity went terribly amiss.
No sooner were teenagers posting lewd photographs. To make matters worse, these teenagers were well below eighteen. This quickly led to outraged parents and advocacy groups threatening legal action against the brand.
Mishaps like this can be avoided by ensuring that your brand and content manager are certain about what they are posting or requesting from their users. While social media should be interactive and promotional, it should not promote actions by consumers that can land the company in hot water.
Looking at the Applicable Rules and Regulations
When developing a social media marketing campaign, there are a few considerations that need to be taken into account. One of those considerations is whether the marketing campaign complies with the applicable rules and regulations, including the FTC.
These guidelines are designed to ensure that your brand’s activity on the online platform are conductive and also are not harmful to the public.
While it is impossible to regulate who views your brand’s social media account and while you cannot block users from viewing your account based on age, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your content is safely viewed and that everything is legal.
The first think you want to do to protect your brand and marketing campaign is to ensure that a disclaimer is in place on the main social media account page, web page, or any other promotional that features a product that is not suitable for all ages.
Giving users prior notice informs the public and it also helps prevent the brand from getting into legal trouble. In addition, it is also helpful to evaluate exactly who your target group is.
If your target group is specifically adults over 21+, then you need to have warnings regarding your content, disclaimers that your brand doesn’t promote underage activity, and so forth. These precautions, while perhaps costly and somewhat daunting, can truly help your brand in the long run.
Negative Feedback Plan
Despite trying to take precautions against any disaster on your brand’s social media account or anything promotional related to your brand, it is imperative to have a plan in place in case your brand encounters negative feedback.
This plan is even more important if your brand faces backlash from social groups. Therefore, before issuing a social media campaign, provides roles in the company regarding who is going to take care of what level of disaster management.The higher level marketing managers are usually better equipped to handle the most serious problems, while the lower level managers can handle the basic stuff.
Furthermore, another way to handle negative feedback and legal issues is to hire a team of attorneys that specialize in social media issues. This type of action should only really be undertaken if your brand is under the threat of a lawsuit.
Also keep in mind that the moment your brand believes that the onset of litigation is possible, all information relevant to the marketing campaign needs to be stored. If the petitioner believes that your brand has destroyed information, then you can get into more legal trouble.
Understand the Relevant Statutes for Email and Text Communications
Running a successful email marketing campaign means more than understanding your target audience and being able to provide when with the best information regarding your brand. The most successful marketing campaigns also have a basic understanding of the relevant statutes related to email and text communications. Every single state has its own policy.
On the other hand, there is also the federal law that you should look to. In terms of federal law, your marketing team should have a basic understanding of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act.
These two federal statutes provide information about social media laws and how to avoid the most common pitfalls that many brands ignore. By understanding both the federal and state statutes, you can protect your brand from legal harm.
Another thing to keep in mind regarding the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act is that is contains details about what every marketing campaign must contain. For example, if you market your brand, consumers must be provided with the option to unsubscribe to your brand’s solicitations.
Furthermore, all information must be accurate and the sender’s physical address must be clearly stated. While this may seem like an anti-brand policy, it is simply a measure to protect consumers from harm and to ensure that fair practices are being followed.
Contracts can seem unnecessary in many contexts when running a social media campaign. Most brands don’t consider forming contracts between the brand and the individuals writing the content or creating the graphics for the campaign. However, it is time for such a notion to change.
Contracts can help your brand immensely, even if they are a standard page and depict a number of obligations on behalf of the brand and the contractor. Contracts are essentially a social promise between two parties, outlining expectations, obligations, delivery, and other interests that both parties have in the venture.
By forming a contract, you make it completely clear what you want from your provider. This enables you to trust more and to believe that you can rely upon a contractor to provide you with the necessary information.
The contractor, on the other hand, will feel more secure in continuing transactions with you in the future. Thus, for your next marketing campaign, consider contracts as a way to help your brand and to save yourself unnecessary expense and time.
Never Mislead the Customer
Both people and companies have a tendency to fib and some would argue that this tendency is human. Regardless of the human trait behind misleading others, brands should have strict policy to never mislead the customer in any marketing campaign.
Misleading the customer regarding a certain products causes the customer to build expectations around the product. This means that when the consumer finds the truth out about the product, they may be inclined to come after you with the full force of the law.
Consumers despise when brands mislead them, and for the sake of your own brand, it is best to always ensure that you are giving your customers accurate information about what your brand’s products can and cannot do.
The legalities of online marketing are unfortunately not something that most brands stop and consider before issuing a marketing campaign. However, keeping in mind the above tips and understanding how your brand fares in the legal scope of things can ensure that your brand remains protected and safe from lawsuits.
A lawsuit is the easiest way to destroy a brand, and it certainly is not something you want knocking on your brand’s door.