Businesses are still responsible for comments made by the public on their Facebook pages, after the Australian Association of National Advertisers resisted pressure to change its definition of advertising in its latest guidance.
The AANA issued “best practice” guidance this week for the digital space in an attempt to address the confusion amongst businesses following the Advertising Standards Board‘s rulings this year which found a brand’s Facebook page is an advertisement.
The AANA’s guidance recommends businesses monitor their Facebook pages at least once a day and for at least two hours just after posting content.
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It also says brand owners whose communities comment at weekends and public holidays should “monitor periodically during these periods also”.
The AANA recommends organising for an email notification to be sent to the business when a user posts, comments or sends a message to a business’ page as well as managing permissions so a business’ page is only able to be viewed in those countries in which the brand is marketed.
It says, where appropriate, age groups should be restricted from viewing the business’ page and a profanity block list should be used.
Alina Bain, acting chief executive of the AANA, told SmartCompany the association issued the advice following the ASB decision because members requested best practice guidelines on interacting with consumers in the social media space.
“It is really about ensuring the community can expect the same level of standards in the digital space as they can in above-the-line advertising,” Bain says.
“The definition [of what constitutes advertising] hinges off promoting a product or service within the reasonable control of the brand’s owner, so there is a heap of things excluded, like YouTube videos using the brand.”
Bain says businesses need to monitor their own spaces like Facebook pages once comments are made but there is little business can do before a post is made.
“This is really very much aligned with what brands are currently doing, so you need to monitor in terms of the level of activity,” she says.
The AANA guidance does not consider whether businesses should disclose paid-for advertising in terms of Facebook posts and paid tweets in line with New Zealand, which requires the use of the hashtag “#ad”.
Bain says the issue of paid tweets is “outside the remit of this particular piece of work”.
“The guidelines are not about the brand identifying themselves as advertising, but it is about the spaces you can control and applying the best practice there,” she says.
“When it comes to Twitter, you are responsible for your own tweet; but if something is retweeted, that is out of your control.”