Brands – Social Media Best Practice Guidelines – Sept 2018
The objective of these guidelines is to encourage brands to adopt common standards, to ensure that all social media communications conform to best practice ethical standards. The Advertising Regulatory Body’s Advertising Code of Practice is at the heart of these guidelines and it’s very important to appreciate that all paid social communications fall within their definition of advertising, and are therefore enforceable. Ensure that all communications issued by you conform to your brand values and governance guidelines. Important to note that these guidelines apply to all content from whatever source generated on behalf of the brand. Other reference documents that you need to be familiar with are the various content guidelines issued by the primary social media platforms as they are being enforced rigorously. Particular areas of concern by the platforms are; fake news, child pornography, sexual exploitation of adults, privacy violations, graphic violence, spam.
This exercise has been led by the IAB, working closely with the ASA/ARB and other interested bodies such as Mobile Marketing Association, Marketing Association South Africa, Social Media Community Managers’ Club, Red & Yellow School.
1. Brand Guidelines and the responsibility of the employee & the contractor
The guidelines apply to all employees and contractors of the brand and its subsidiaries, creating or contributing to blogs, forums, social networks or any other kind of social media.
The guidelines also apply to individual agency and any third party agencies working for or on behalf of the brand It is the responsibility of the brand employee working with these consultants and agencies to ensure these guidelines are followed. The guidelines apply to all social media participation, whether internal to the brand or on sites which are visible outside of the brand.
Brand members should not comment on their brand or other brands in their personal social communications without securing approval from their PR dept.
2. Social Media Guidelines: Overarching Principles
2.1. Responsibility—Employees are personally responsible for the content they publish. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time and has vast reach beyond your control. Remember that search engines will be evaluating and ranking your posts. If you’re not trained on search optimization principles, contact your local web marketing experts.
2.2. Disclosure: Whenever you make a statement on a website or external social media site or external blog that is likely to induce or encourage the purchase of a Brand product or service. The disclosure of your identity should be placed as physically close to the endorsement as possible.
2.3. Consultants and third party agencies or vendors receiving payment or incentives from Brand are also required to disclose their connection to Brand when making endorsements on web sites or external social media sites. It is the responsibility of the Brand relationship owner to communicate this expectation.
2.4. Information accuracy and veracity; it’s your responsibility to check that all information and claims quotes are verifiable and this includes quotes from third parties
2.5. Transparency— preferably the author should identify himself or if it’s being issued by the PR dept there should be a contact email address quoted to facilitate response.
2.6. Disclaimers—If you publish content on any website outside of Brand and it has something to do with the work you do or subjects associated with Brand you must clear the communication with your PR dept prior publication.
2.7. Legal Sensibilities—Respect copyright, intellectual property rights, and financial disclosure laws.
2.8. Confidentiality—Respect confidential or proprietary information and this includes information sourced from manuals and documentation from externa sources, and should only be published with the consent of the company concerned.
2.9. Respect Your Audience—Consider social media as an extension of the workplace. What’s appropriate in the real world should be consistent with the virtual world. That means it is inappropriate to use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in Brand’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or very sensitive—such as politics and religion.
2.10. Add Value—Provide worthwhile information and perspectives quoting sources taking every step to ensure it is verifiable and credible.
2.11. In the event of a public event or issue, all social media communications must be authorised prior issue by the brand communications dept
2.12. Do not engage in spam, defined as irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the internet, typically to a large number of users, for the purpose of advertising.
3. Dealing with negative comments
3.1. Avoid Public Disputes—If a reader leaves a negative comment within your social media environment, a quick and proactive response is recommended, work to turn the negative comment into a positive discussion encouraging more dialogue. However if the language of the writer is disrespectful or derogatory then seek the approval of your communications dept before responding.
4. Blog Guidelines
A blog is a website that generally enables two-way communication between the blogger and a target audience. It is usually maintained by a blogger with regular editorial entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
An important feature of most blogs is the ability of readers to add comments on the blogger’s “posts,” creating an ongoing thread of conversation on the topic of the blog. Blogs also present an excellent place to recommend to readers related web destinations associated with the blog’s topic.
4.1.1 Blog when you have time to properly focus on what you are writing. Write in your natural voice; authenticity is important.
4.1.2 Remember that each post is the start of a conversation.
4.1.3 Ensure you write and post about your areas of expertise as they relate to the Brand.
4.1.4 Always tell the truth. Stick to the facts and be sure they are accurate. Provide informed and well-supported opinions, quote sources. Also, if you speak about a competitor, make sure that what you say is factual and that it does not unfairly criticize the competitor.
4.1.5 If you make a mistake, admit it. Be open and honest and let your readers know about it. No one is perfect. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so. Always keep in mind that you are representing Brand.
126.96.36.199.1 Identify influential industry blogs using tools such as Technorati that let you study things like web traffic and comments.
188.8.131.52.2 Blog checklist:
184.108.40.206.2.1 What is my communication objective
220.127.116.11.2.2 Do I have something of value to say
18.104.22.168.2.3 How can I engage with my target audience
22.214.171.124.2.4 Update my profile
5 Microblogging Guidelines
5.1 Definition : making short, frequent posts to a microblog eg. Twitter is currently the most popular
5.2 Best Practices
5.2.1 Remember, Twitter is a public platform and can be indexed by search engines. This means that what is written can become part of the Brand and your “permanent record.”
5.2.2 Know that what your Tweet can be Retweeted by others and referenced on other sites. Give credit to others whose message you are Retweeting.
5.2.3 Respond in a timely fashion.
6. User Forums/Message Board Guidelines
A forum is an online discussion site where users can engage in discussion on a variety of detailed topics. Each discussion within a forum is called a “thread” and many threads can be active at the same time.
Forums can exist as a stand-alone entity or as a built in feature of a website. Unlike a blog, where there is a clear owner of the posted content, the content within a forum’s threads is created by its members. A forum moderator monitors posts and removes inappropriate posts or spam but does not lead discussions.
Forums have a very strong sense of community, and conversations within forums can include those seeking advice, and sharing and/or debating information.
These guidelines pertain to participating in forum threads.
7. Video/Audio Sharing Site Guidelines
A video sharing website lets people upload and share their video clips with the general public or invited guests. Most video sharing and hosting websites have a social networking element within them where users are required to create a profile. Additionally, users can become fans, subscribe and make comments on videos.
7.2 Best Practices
7.2.1 Keep Brand Identity guidelines in mind. It’s important to align with Brand overall voice, look and feel.
7.2.2 Videos intended for an internal audience should not be shared with external audiences without proper authorization from managers.
7.2.3 If posting to a personal or third-party site on behalf of the company, disclose your affiliation with Brand.
7.2.4 Choose a “keyword-centric” title to describe the video with the primary keyword in the farthest left position of the title. If you’re not trained on search optimization principles, contact Brand Interactive Marketing.
7.2.5 Create a catchy description that motivates users to view, not only the video, but also additional information on the Brand website as well. Try to add a link back to the Brand website. Work with Brand Interactive Marketing to determine the best links or content to use.
7.2.6 Be mindful of appropriate video length, the longer the video the tougher it is to keep viewers engaged.
8 Posts & Comments
8.1 A piece of writing, image, or other item of content published online, typically on a blog or social media website or application.
8.2 The source of the post must be clearly disclosed.
8.3 Remember if you pass along a post, you are as responsible as the person who originally composed the post.
8.4 Forbidden are posts and comments that promote, foster or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of creed, colour, religion, age, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental ability or sexual orientation.
9.1 A troll is a person who sows discord on the internet by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages.
9.2 Brand representatives must not associate with trolls
10 Fake News
10.1 Malicious fake news refers to fabricated news that has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate.
10.2 Accidental fake news occurs when a rumour or non-substantiated claim is posted. Remember that claims made by persons being interviewed need to be credibly verified before being posted.
11 Sponsored content
11.1 Brands associated with paid content must ensure that their involvement is clearly communicated.
11.2 Content payments can be financial or in kind payments.
11.3 Consultants and third party agencies or vendors receiving payment or incentives from Brand are also required to disclose their connection to Brand when making endorsements on web sites or external social media sites. It is the responsibility of the Brand relationship owner to communicate this expectation.
11.4 Consultants & third parties must be in a position to substantiate all claims.
12 Influencer Marketing
Brands associated with paid influencers must disclose their involvement and the fact that the influencer is receiving some form of remuneration, financial or in kind. Whenever a paid influencer makes a statement likely to induce or encourage a purchase of a brand product or service. The disclosure of the Brand should be placed as physically close to the endorsement as possible.
12.1 Consultants and third party agencies or vendors receiving payment or incentives from Brand are also required to disclose their connection to Brand when making endorsements on websites or external social media sites. It is the responsibility of the Brand relationship owner to communicate this expectation.
12.2 Influencers must be in a position to reasonably substantiate all claims.
13.1 Advertisements should not contain or refer to any testimonial or endorsement unless it is genuine and related to personal experience of the person giving it. All claims must be capable of substantiation.
Prepared by Marketing Mix and IABSA
Comments to : email@example.com
@ 15 Oct 2018