We all understand the importance of truth in advertising, both in legal and moral realms, but sometimes we neglect this straightforward attitude in our blogs. However, blogs are, at their core, a form of advertising.
You may be advertising your expertise, your business, or your product. Rest assured, you are advertising something when you write and publish a blog post, and this same principal of truth in advertising applies.
I would like to think that people who use deceptive language in their blogs always do so accidentally. I know better, of course, but I’m an optimist and I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt because I want to. It might seem a harmless bit of self-promotion to make a claim in a blog post that is mostly, but not entirely, true. In fact, you might not even realize you are doing it.
However, there can be serious legal problems for you and your business if you don’t. For example, if you mention that something is being offered for “free” without stipulations, it had better actually be free and without stipulations. If it isn’t, it qualifies as a bait-and-switch scam, and you can actually be sued. That’s why you see those little asterisks on ads next to the word “Free*” and see the corresponding terms at the bottom.
Similarly, superlatives can be very misleading if you can’t back up the claims that you are making. If you state that you are the “best” or the “fastest,” for example, you need quantifiable proof that you are actually the best or fastest to back up that claim. If that proof doesn’t exist, you are actually lying to your readers and to your customers, and even “little white lies” don’t fly in advertising. They can leave you open to a lawsuit.
Buying a positive review may seem like a harmless bump for your business if you don’t have any reviews yet, but you provide an excellent product or service. However, the fallout from that decision can hurt your business far more than just being patient and waiting for the natural reviews to come in. Reputation and transparency are the keys to building trust with your customers, and a smudge on that reputation will prove hard to explain and harder to erase.
In short, the best course of action when writing your posts is to keep in mind that you are acting as an advertising agent for yourself and your business. You don’t want anything to hurt the business you have worked so hard to establish, so don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in your creativity and writing something that stretches the truth. It will come back to bite you if you do.