Advertisers are increasingly using social media to interact with their target audience. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has issued guidance for advertisers to ensure they comply with advertising codes when using social media. CAP’s guidance emphasises that the same rules apply to advertising using social media, for example on Facebook and Twitter, as to traditional media.

The key points are:

  • Advertisers are responsible for user generated content on webpages under their control. This means that advertisers must ensure that any user generated content they incorporate in an advert is accurate and not misleading, harmful or offensive. Importantly, advertisers who invite users to comment on a service or a product must monitor the responses they receive (including any images or videos) to ensure that they are compliant with the CAP Code rules, as these responses will become part of the ad.
  • Consumers must be able to judge whether or not they are seeing an ad. For example, to make this clear on Twitter advertisers could use #ad, or #spon if a product is being endorsed.
  • Advertisers must ensure that ads are appropriately targeted and must consider where the ad is displayed and who can view it, and in particular whether it could be seen by children.
  • Competitions must be administered in the same way that they would be offline. This means making the terms and conditions available upfront.

The guidance clearly shows that advertisers must take the same approach online as they do offline. Advertisers who were not aware that they are responsible for user-generated responses should put in place appropriate monitoring systems and ensure their terms and conditions allow them to edit user responses.

CAP’s guidance can be found here.