Seven Reasons You Should Care About Disclosure on Twitter

A tweet from Eden Spodek caught my eye the other day:

“Am I in the minority in thinking consultants should disclose when tweeting about clients?”

DisclosureNow, I’ve written about disclosure plenty of times in the past, but given the recent introduction of disclosure rules by the FTC down in the US (check out Louis Gray’s fun post… is it just a matter of time until we have them in Canada?) and the growth of promotional postings on Twitter, it’s worth revisiting – especially in light of the new contributor function within Twitter.

From my perspective, I don’t think it matters if you’re being paid to talk about a client, if you’re just doing it yourself or even if you’re writing about a client’s competitor (a risky task). Either way, trust and relationships you’ve developed online are at play.

Here are seven reasons I think you should take those extra few keystrokes to disclose your client relationships:

  1. Undisclosed posts can be revealed – nothing is secret on the web.
  2. Social media is all about trust (it’s why Technorati did so well for so long (authority rankings) and why Google is doing well now). Failing to disclose your bias can contribute to losing trust.
  3. Most clients (Kanye excepted) won’t thank you for stirring-up controversy.
  4. Every string of characters you post can either build or damage your reputation. Which would you prefer?
  5. Your reputation is worth more than eight keystrokes – “(client)”.
  6. The benefit you’ll get from better conversions may be negated by the people who complain about you – to regulators, to the media or to others online (and those groups may overlap).
  7. Content exists online over a long period time thanks to Google (all the more so if Twitter fixes its ridiculous two-week search limit). If rules around disclosure get tightened down the line, you’re better off safe than sorry.

Opinions often vary on this – what’s your take?

(Image credit: margolove on Flickr)

32 Responses toSeven Reasons You Should Care About Disclosure on Twitter

  • I don’t think the platform matters, Dave – if it’s a client, or on behalf of one, you disclose. I do this on my blog, via Twitter, Facebook messages, Youtube or Viddler videos – anywhere I’m making a public statement. The same advice goes to clients.

    And it works just as much offline as it does online – if you’re talking in a face-to-face meeting you need to be upfront about client relationships. Same goes with outreach programs. Basically, in the case of trust, you can never have too much.

  • Disclosure is a must. But I question the value of any comment that would require disclosure in the first place.

    Let’s say Bob is up front that he works for Acme Inc. Will you then value his comment about them due to the disclosure? I wouldn’t. I’d appreciate the honesty, but if Bob valued my time he wouldn’t fill my twitter stream with comments about people who pay him. There’s no value in that to me.

    That said, if someone has a truly valuable comment to make that is related to one of their clients, then sure, make the comment and disclose the relationship. Otherwise, IMHO, don’t do make the comment. I’m following you, not your clients. (Too harsh?)

  • Absolutely agree with the first reason because i have a direct experience on this issue. Nothing is a secret on web. So if you want to keep something in secret just don’t write it in any web. The web is faster than word of month.

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