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Businesses Beware – Social Media Advertising can Backfire

According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and their new paper on Guidance on Social Media.

Advertising on social media platforms includes advertising which promotes the interest of any person, product or service, imparts information, educates, or advocates an idea, belief, political viewpoint or opportunity.

So this means, in effect, that businesses are responsible not only for their own social media marketing nz content, but anything that users have added or uploaded. A business could be censured for offensive or misleading content posted by a third-party on its Google Plus or Facebook page.

If content is on a controlled platform, like a Facebook or Google Plus page, then the business is responsible.

Any issues that come up would be dealt with on a case by case basis, but the ASA would take a dim view of offensive or misleading content that was solicited by the advertiser.

Re-posting or sharing and commenting, which is outside a business’s control, would not come under the ASA jurisdiction. For example if an individual put up footage of your brand on “YouTube” with comments – this is not under your control, nor the responsibility of the business. Likewise if a tweet from a business is “re-tweeted” with added content – this is not under the businesses control.

The ASA has reprimanded businesses and specifically – 2 bars that have promoted drink specials and heavy drinking on their Facebook pages have been reprimanded.

The ASA has some suggestions for businesses that operate social media pages. Including;

  • Developing your own social media polices – that clearly set out controls and limits.
  • Moderation strategies – have your site or page moderated and know what is being put on your site at all times.
  • Consider using a disclaimer – see below for an example the ASA have suggested is ideal for Facebook.

Social Media Disclaimer

“This page is monitored daily by Your Company/Organisation.
We support the discussion of free speech and engagement with others, however we reserve the right to remove anything posted to this page that we deem to be offensive, including:

• violent, obscene, profane, hateful, suggestive or racist posts, links or images
• comments that threaten or defame any person or organisation
• solicitations, advertisements, or endorsements of any financial, commercial organisations
• off-topic posts by a single user
• repetitive posts copied and pasted or duplicated by single or multiple users.

Offensive users will also be blocked from our social network pages. Your Company / Organisation is not responsible for the personal, political, organisational or religious beliefs of its friends, fans or followers across all social networks.

All contributors are asked to keep in mind Your Company / Organisation core values -including integrity, respect, and excellence – when communicating with or about us.

Please feel free to contact us Your Company / Organisation email address.”

These ASA guidelines follow on from a landmark decision by the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau, where it was found that companies were responsible for moderating comments of their Facebook page.

In this specific case, complaints were made against Fosters for its Victoria Bitter-branded Facebook page, where users discussed heavy drinking and made derogatory sexual comments.

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