Buzz marketing campaigns and brand ambassadors: What to do legally?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Recommending a product or service to friends on Facebook, advertising on Twitter through prominent figures (marketing buzz), or sending company information to its LinkedIn contacts are all marketing models that become more and more popular in social networks. However, these types of practices carry legal implications.

The relative novelty of the applicability of legal requirements in the context of social network services can create confusion of concepts and terminology, of which is significant at all levels. The evangelist consumers or brand ambassadors (brand advocates) all require forethought and thorough analysis prior to any marketing campaign.

Digital marketing in legal terms

In practice, the initial thinking in legal terms refers to the brand ambassadors as emergent advertising figures. And the legal implications of them in the context of complex systems through crowdsourcing and dynamic influence generated by social networks and product value platforms or services  in a profoundly interconnected ecosystem. The designated brand ambassadors are those evangelist consumers who support or feel passionate for certain brands and share their opinion about company products and services  in conversations with other people.

As it was pointed out previously, the brand ambassadors have greater significance in the field of e-commerce and digital marketing, whenever it suits their role to their target market and optimizes their monetization.

By extension, in my opinion,  they resemble participants of affiliate programs. However, we will discuss the issue of affiliate programs in a future entry.

Legal aspects to consider

Below, before a scene where the figure of remunerated brand ambassadors is becoming more relevant,  here is some formulated actions that allow their commercial exploitation without risk of infringement waiting to be consolidated in future legal casuistry:

  • Review of social network legal conditions with respect to sending advertisements and brand ambassador regulations
  • Source information and compensation received (disclosure)
  • Establishment of a duty of accuracy, reliability and objectivity
  • Formal declaration and disclosure of brand ambassador participation in a campaign
  • Monitoring publications by brand ambassadors for legal compliance purposes
  • Implementation of simple methods to report inappropriate behavior or content
  • Reply in haste to notifications of illegal content or conduct
  • Where relevant, activation of a contingency plan that contemplates the order of rectification,  removing the contents or possible resolution of the business relationship between the brand and brand ambassador

In conclusion, it seems fundamental the approach of a unified brand marketing strategy  in social platforms that look at legal aspects to promote web content visibility and preserve the corporate brand image.

Jose Manuel Pérez Marzabal (@jmperezmarzabal) is a lawyer who specializes in Internet and e-commerce at MTNProjects. Furthermore, he is a visiting professor at BES La Salle and a teaching consultant at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). He has a Master’s degree in International Law (LL.M) from WWU Münster and a Diploma in Advanced Studies in International Law and Economics from the University of Barcelona.