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How to avoid social media meltdowns

Thursday September 7, 2017 at 11:52am

Describing social media as the “wild west” of advertising is a tired old cliché. But despite advances in technology, regulation and consumer understanding, it’s true that social media allows almost anyone to run a competition or prize draw. As the BBC reported this week, some consumers are being scammed through illegal lotteries, and it’s not uncommon for bloggers and small companies to offer prizes they struggle to fulfil. Even big brands can find themselves caught up in PR disasters – I’m sure Walkers would prefer we forget the sight of Gary Lineker waving a picture of Fred West all over Twitter.

Stories like these can make both consumers and brands wary of social media. So what steps can you take to ensure your promotions stand out as ones you can trust? 

Moderate to stay in control

Don’t push out user generated content under your brand without moderating it first; you don’t want internet trolls looking for laughs at your expense, or to get called out by the ASA for being irresponsible. Consider that some industries may be higher risk than others. Alcohol and gambling brands in particular need to ensure they don’t inadvertently encourage users to post images that breach the CAP Code or other industry regulations. 

Read up on social media guidelines

Many platforms have their own rules for running promotions through their channels. Facebook in particular can be strict when it comes to inaccurate tagging or forcing users to share advertising content on their own timeline in order to enter. Instagram similarly discourages inaccurate tagging. Twitter is more relaxed, but prohibits mechanics that encourage duplicate updates. Even if you have great idea that follows legal guidelines, this won’t help you if the website you’re running it on decides to take it down. Make sure you read up first.

Don’t forget the CAP Code 

The same rules apply to social media as any other promotion. If you wouldn’t do it in a large campaign, you shouldn’t do it on social media. This means including the significant conditions in posts; refer to rule 8.17 of the Code for guidance on what you need to include. The only exception to this is where space is genuinely limited (such as in a tweet or sponsored search ad). Bear in mind that Facebook and Instagram posts are unlikely to be considered limited space. 

Have an upcoming social media promotion? Get in touch at legal@theipm.org.uk or call us on 020 3848 0447.

» Categories: Legal, CAP