In December of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission updated it’s guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, which affected testimonial advertisements, bloggers and celebrity endorsements. The last time these Guides were updated was in 1980! With the widespread acceptance and use of social media to review products and services, as well as to aid in making informed decisions, this was a necessary change.

“The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

How are manufacturers befriending bloggers? General Mills says it uses roughly 100 social media sites to engage consumers. It also goes where bloggers are by hosting tasting suites at major blogging conferences. It hosts its own events too, like “Baking with Betty,” in which bloggers sample and bake with new lines of products in test kitchens. They are not paid to blog, nor are required to do so, but all expenses are paid to attend the event. General Mills recognizes the value in social media, so much so that it created its own blogosphere of consumers called MyBlogSpark. Here, member bloggers receive product information and samples to review which span food and beverage, health, beauty, electronics, home and automotive care. It appears that any brand and any blogger can participate in this. It is not clear how the bloggers are endorsed.

Consider rethinking the strategy you use to get your products in front of customers and how it could be enhanced through word-of-mouth testimonials and endorsements.