A ruling by Australia’s ad watchdog that makes brands responsible for fan comments on their Facebook pages will make use of the social media network more complex. A large part of social media is the social aspect; the good, bad and ugly comments that happens on a blog or Facebook page – refer to our post on Channel 9.

The ACCC has ruled that a company’s Facebook page is an advertisement, so any misleading comments must be removed. Companies have the legal duty to remove offending posts/comments. The rulings link corporate marketing directly with Facebook comments and while that seems straightforward there are challenges. The Communications Council (TCC) has launched its new social media code of conduct, designed to help brands navigate the increasingly important communication channel.

Good social governance certainly needs to apply to Facebook Pages with rules stating what kinds of posts will be removed, and this needs to be monitored and acted upon effectively. However these rules also aim to encourage engagement and participation and they do not usually state that comments about competitors products or claims about the Company’s products will be removed. That is the challenge. If a company executed the letter of the law with respect to the recent rulings then they face the risk of killing off engagement.

Clearly Social Channels (like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube) need to be viewed as an integrated part of corporate business processes like marketing, corporate communications, and customer service. They aren’t independent nor stand-alone initiatives. Today there are technologies like Sysomos, Radian6, Adobe, and Buddy Media that allow organisations to proactively govern their customer and their staff participation in Social Channels.

Our own opinion though is that the rulings are out of touch with the reality of social media, but that clearly companies need to execute good governance over their social media presence which does involve some rules, monitoring and prompt action.

@michae1green

STOP PRESS! Just published in The Conversation – Nicholas Carah and Sven Brodmerkel provide a uniquely clear and enlightening analysis of the ASB and ACCC rulings. The core issue is NOT the posts by users per se, but the posts by the company in conjunction