Comms Council releases social media guidelines

By By Wenlei Ma | 16 August 2012

Following the recent ruling which sees advertisers responsible for user-generated content on Facebook, the Communications Council has unveiled its Social Media Code of Conduct to address an increasingly murky social marketing landscape.

The launch has been timed to plug into the debate around brands' responsibilities on social media following last week's Ad Standards Bureau's ruling that user-generated content on a brand's social media page must adhere to the AANA Code of Ethics.

The Code of Conduct is separated into two parts – one for personal social media interactions for employees and the other for commercial use for brands. Both parts advocate transparency, accuracy, professionalism, fairness and respect and confidentiality.

On the personal side, the Code emphasised that assume all online communications are public regardless of privacy settings while on the commercial side, the Code encouraged the development of a crisis management plan from the beginning.

Comms Council chief executive Margaret Zabel said: “Although the Social Media Code of Conduct has been in progress for the past year, we feel the launch comes at a particularly pertinent time. This month's controversial ruling from the Advertising Standards Bureau is a timely reminder of the developing landscape of communications and our legal and ethical accountabilities.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking transparency from brands, and clients are looking for ways to monitor and minimise legal risk on social media channels, so it has never been more important to have a set of guidelines in place to minimise the risk of social media engagement harming your organisation, client or employee's reputation.”

To officially launch the Code, the Comms Council will hold a training seminar in Sydney on 10 September to address the legal and ethical challenges faced by brands in the social sphere. The seminar will be run by solicitor Stephen von Muenster.

Comms Council Digital Committee chairman Iain McDonald said: “This specialised training will provide guidance on the management of social media for brands from both a legal perspective and that of a practical application for effective marketing communications.”

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