Social media and the Law, ASA. Cap CodeToday the BBC reported a crackdown on paid promotions via vlogging (video blogs). The example was given of Mondelez brand, Oreo, paying well-known vloggers to promote their biscuits (not a new or particularly unethical practice in itself). However, the vloggers did not declare that this was a commercial arrangement and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that these are adverts.

The consequences for Oreo are only that the vloggers must place the word ‘ad’ or ‘promo’ in the video title, but it could also have meant a large fine.

But it is not just Vloggers who need to know regulations, so too do brands

Vloggers, brands and in fact anyone promoting products or services where there is an exchange of money or gifts, must declare it is a paid for promotion. In other word make it very clear that this is an advert, sponsorship or a paid promotion.

These are not new rules, but they are being more rigorously enforced

But this is not a new rule. In fact the ASA and CAP codes have been in place now for a couple of years – they came into effect in March 2011. And although they have been revised a few times, the essence remains the same: if it is a promotion, then you must tell readers and network audiences of the fact.

If, as a brand marketer, you are not aware of these regulations or even the laws that apply to social media, then now is the time to brush up. Because the ASA is paying attention to what is happening on social.

So, here are some useful places to look if you want to get a good grip on being compliant in social:

  • CAP code Rules of social engagement

A top line view of how to ensure your social media activity stays within the ASA advertising codes. It is a bit confusing at times, but there are some good examples of rulings

CAP Code social engagement rules

  • IAB UK and ISBA guidelines on social media content

A much more comprehensive set of guidelines by our industry peers. This is a detailed report with lots of examples and is free to members and non members

IAB and ISBA social media promotion guidance

  • ASA give you examples of rulings and reasons for decisions

The ASA do not create the rules (CAP does that) they enforce regulations. You can review their rullings on their website. It can often clarify confusing issues.

ASA Rulings

  • Guide to social media and the law

This is our won guide, written with the help if lawyers. It looks at the wider legal requirements. Yes it covers promotional regulatins, nut also look at the cornerstone communications and employment laws that apply to social media. A useful starting point to understand how to stay compliant, and written in plain English!

Social media and the law – guidelines

  • What the lawyers think of social media law

A good, if topline, overview from Linklaters offers a more legal perspective (and very readable too)

Social media law handbook

Don’t get caught out, give these a good read. And if you find any other good resources, please do let us know in comments

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