November 25, 2012

Just a heads up: be careful how you’re using social media to promote your brand. You could be exposing yourself to complaints under the Advertising Codes of Practice.

The Advertising Standards Authority has recently released guidelines on social media marketing, especially what it considers advertising.

http://www.asa.co.nz/revisedcodes/ASA%20Guidance%20Note%20on%20Social%20Media%20October%202012.pdf

The upshot is that, if you have a reasonable amount of control over the platform being used or you have used content from your audience to use in your own marketing, then you could responsible for the material and you could be liable under the Advertising Codes of Practice (e.g. misleading claims, offensive content, etc.)

In a lot of cases, you’re now under the same set of rules as any other kind of advertising.

e.g.

  • if you retweet or share someone else’s update about your brand and it’s wrong.
  • If you run a competition to see who can post about why they love your brand. If people start writing misleading or offensive stuff and you don’t delete it, then it’s your organisation in the line of fire from the ASA.

There are some good guidelines and resources in the document for protecting yourself.

And there is a good discussion of some recent cases in Australia and NZ here: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=13364f2b-822b-405f-b6d1-8e2b07503664

In particular, Hell Pizza and Smirnoff have run into trouble with Facebook campaigns recently.

Perhaps the most contentious piece of advice is to make sure that if you pay anyone to tweet on behalf of your brand, they need to include the hashtag #ad in their tweet. For a good discussion of the complexities of the #ad hashtag,  read Toby Manhire’s column in The Listener. e.g. Does money need to change hands?  What if you give someone a can of Coke and then they tweet about how much they love Coke?