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Guidance for promoting within social media channels

The IAB pitches in with new industry best-practice guidelines

Are you doing paid-for promotion of your brand via social media channels? If so, or if you're intending to, be sure have a glance over these new guidelines from the IAB.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released guidelines into the payment for editorial content to specifically promote a brand, product or service within a social media environment.

The new guidelines developed by the IAB’s Social Media Council are also supported by the Voice of British Advertisers (ISBA), the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP), offers marketers direction to ensure transparency when promoting to consumers in the social space.

The guidelines are helpful for brand owners and marketing practitioners since they help ensure that you comply with consumer protection law and do this by featuring six relevant social media scenarios to demonstrate how the guidance may work in practice - refreshing!

These 6 example scenarios are:

  1. Video Placement
  2. Blogs
  3. Video Blogs
  4. Twitter
  5. Forums
  6. Facebook

Why's this needed?

As the law stands...

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) specifically prohibits “using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content or by images or sounds clearly identifiable by the consumer (advertorial).” The CPRs also prohibits: “Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.”

With the social media discipline growing faster than ever there's a need for practical guidance to help brand owners and marketing practitioners comply with consumer protection law, translating that for social channels and so helping keep your brand out of any hot water.

“Despite legislation coming into force over three years ago, there are still brands unknowingly putting themselves at risk. The IAB’s Social Media Council felt it was time to step-up and develop clear guidelines, along with practical examples, that help brands comply.” Robin Grant, Managing Director at We Are Social and member of the IAB’s Social Media Council

The guidelines have been released in conjunction with a helpful Q&A which offers additional clarity and information on why they are necessary and how they will be kept relevant and up to date as the market evolves.

What are the key take-aways?

The IAB recommend that we follow three steps when a payment has been made to editorially promote a brand, product or service via social media channels:

  • Ensure that the author or publisher of the message discloses that payment has been made. This will ensure that it is clear to consumers that it is a marketing communication. See below examples.
  • Ensure that authors adhere to the appropriate terms and conditions of the social media platform or website that they are using in relation to promoting a product or service. This includes search engines likely to index the content.
  • Ensure that the content of the ‘marketing communication’ adheres to the principles of the CAP Code.

Here's a short video from the IAB explaining it all.

The 6 examples to browse can be seen in the full guide here.

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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