It is strikingly evident that social media offers enormous marketing opportunities for business to directly interact with customers. But after Advertising Standards Bureau has ruled that the usage of social media such as Facebook fanpage, can be regarded as a “marketing communication tool” when used by an advertiser, thus all the comments and user-generated contents displayed on specific platform should be censored by the advertisers:
The Board considered that the Facebook site of an advertiser is a marketing communication tool over which the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control and could be considered to draw the attention of a segment of the public to a product in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly that product .
Comparing with the extra time and staff spending on monitoring the contents generated by users and their friends, is it still worth investing on social media for business?
Furthermore, there exist more legal risks when organization participates in social media. As a beverage manufacturer, Smirnoff has successful built up a strong fan base on Facebook through launching several interesting online events. However, their lack of moderating inappropriate comments generated by their “fans” on their Facebook page has caused them a severe outcome which even led to the ruling conducted by ASB mentioned above.
Besides the legal risk of defamation, Smirnoff may also need to take those concerns into account while engaging in social media:
• Risk of Confidential information loss or disclosure:
While many employees like to tweet about their job during or after working hours, the company needs to regulate and train their employees when posting job-related contents through social media platform.
• Risk of wrongful dismissal:
Job-related inappropriate comments made by employees on social media platform, even under personal accounts, can grant employers legal right to conduct a termination of employment.
Fair Work Commissioner Bissett:
“Posting comments about an employer on a website (Facebook) that can be seen by an uncontrollable number of people is no longer a private matter but a public comment…A Facebook posting, while initially undertaken outside working hours, does not stop once work recommences. It remains on Facebook…for anyone with permission to access the site to see…It would be foolish of employees to think they may say as they wish on their Facebook page with total immunity from any consequences. “
• Risk of Trade mark infringement:
When typing in “Smirnoff Australia Facebook” in Google search engine, this page even ranks higher than the official Facebook page of Smirnoff. Organization shall make sure that their trademarked names have been reserved on social media platform to prevent from being used to disseminate misleading or deceptive information.
• Risk of Defamation: (As illustrated above)
There was a complaint in relation to the official Facebook fanpage of Smirnoff Vodka Australia which has raised concern about user generated inappropriate contents, such as sexism, racism, discrimination or vilification, obscenity, and depiction of irresponsible drinking. After Advertising Standards Bureau effectively ruled that Diageo, Smirnoff’s parent company, is responsible for monitoring all the comments and activities on its Facebook page, it may pose another issue: do users need to take responsibility for the contents generated by them?
It is also interesting to see how companies deal with negative comments from customers. Is it the best policy to delete all negative feedback, like Westpac did? (Case study picked up by Karen) Or should company take the transparent approach in social media policy and never delete any comments?
“We have never deleted a single comment from the Kogan Facebook, Twitter, blog or YouTube pages,” Kogan Technologies founder Ruslan Kogan told StartupSmartin October last year.
|My suggestions of social media policy for organization:
1. Clearly state social media policy and effective breach penalty2. Clarify an effective plan in response to break out3. Get more staffs involved in the role of moderating contents posted on organization’s socialmedia platforms
4. “Care” (from Seth Godin) about your customers and employees.
5. Leverage between the benefit and risk of transparency on social media.