Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Big Brother's Watching. Blogging, the ASA and You

If you blog and you work with brands then you really need to read on as yesterday the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) issued new guidelines that are potentially going to cause a huge impact on the way that bloggers and brands can work together.

The ASA's new Big Brother powers cover all aspects of a brands online marketing including their own website and social networking hubs like Twitter and Facebook.
So any claims that a brand makes about their own products have to be 100% true. It's no longer acceptable for a razor to be 'The Best a Man Can Get' now they have to prove that it is.

Then it gets even trickier, as user-generated content, and i'm talking simple comments, blog posts and tweets, can also fall foul to the rulings. 

But what does that really mean for brands using social media?
It means that they have to think twice before they comment or re-tweet because as soon as they do, they will have to be able to prove that statement is true. All of these ares are affected.

  • Websites.
  • Owned social media spaces (Facebook page, Twitter, blogs, brand run forums).
  • Any commercial relationships on above owned social media spaces (and that includes blogger outreach).
If you run a Facebook page or Twitter account for a brand you definitely need to re think your social media strategy and read up on the new guidelines as things that you wouldn't have even thought twice about doing a week ago are now a real no no.

It all feels like a pretty grey area and the ASA is after all, self regulated. Does this mean that brands are going to be on the constant look out for competitors to shop to Big Brother? I'm sure that they'll be looking for some high profile brands to name and shame on the new section of their site - and this could easily become a destination page for slow newsday stories. I just hope this won't be the case.
Read the new guidelines in full on the ASA site.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you are a small brand who relies heavily on social media marketing.


  1. I think it's going to be difficult to police user generated content and I'd be interested in how they can make sure that it's not just brands ratting out other brands.

  2. Big thanks for the warning, Sian. It would have slipped by me otherwise. This is a potential minefield.

    I'm actually now having to do something I'd never thought necessary in such a small business (previously governed by common sense): writing a set of guidelines for using social media.

  3. Thanks so much for posting about this I had not picked up on it at all. I work as the social networker for a brand so will have to review our guidelines to make sure we are fully compliant.
    Much appreciated x


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Appreciated as always. xx


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