ASA’s CAP Code expansion and how it impacts your social media strategy

The Advertising Standards Authority’s expansion of the Committee of Advertising Practice Code came into force last week to try help ‘legitimise’ social media.

According to NMA, the code now includes a brand’s non-paid-for online marketing, such as its website and social media space. This is an expansion from regulating only paid-for marketing communications, such as pop-up and banner ads, paid search and viral ads.

As the social media space becomes more monitored, businesses will need to ensure they are abiding by the new rules. The full guidelines can be found here, but we have compiled the key areas to be aware of when executing your social media strategy:

  • First and foremost, ensure that all your content is accurate. All copy and messages on your business website or in any social media channels must be legal and any claims must be backed up with statistical data which is properly referenced
  • You must not falsely claim or imply that you are acting as a consumer. You (and your business) must make clear your commercial intent if it’s not obvious from the context
  • Comments from consumers about your brand on your Facebook page or Twitter feed are a part of natural conversation and will not fall under the code; however, should you use these comments in your marketing activity, they will. You must check the customer source and legitimacy before using their content, such as when retweeting
  • Laws are already in place in terms of using paid endorsements – this includes any comments on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. It must be clearly stated if, for example, a celebrity has been paid or given free products in return for talking about your brand

These moves, whilst still a work in progress (the code is valid for two years with quarterly reviews), are looking to take social media into a more mature, controlled space.

In the end it’s also to protect the consumer even further in an area in which they share so much personal information.

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