Guidance Notes on Social Media

Advertising Standards Authority Releases Guidance Notes on Social Media

Effective from October 2012

Do you use social media for your business? Status updates on Facebook? Send tweets on Twitter? Use Google+ to share within your circles? The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has introduced important changes that now covers not only what you as a company posts but what users post on your social media platform as well.

On 16 October, the ASA introduced its first guidance notes for companies using social media to interact and advertise products/services to the public. The ASA guidance note distinguishes what content is deemed advertising and therefore under their jurisdiction, along with what is not under their authority.

User generated content (UGC) will be regarded as advertising and be under the jurisdiction of the ASA if:

  • The advertiser adopted and incorporated UGC, whether solicited or unsolicited, within their
    own advertising.
  • The advertiser solicited UGC (for example via an invitation to enter a competition) that
    resulted in content being posted on the site.

There are scenarios where action or content is outside the ASA’s jurisdiction such as:

  • An individual posting a Brand’s ad on YouTube with additional footage/comments.
  • An individual posting footage on YouTube using a brand or product but with no
    company involvement.
  • A tweet from a brand re‐tweeted with added offensive content.
  • User‐generated comments on brand social media platforms (moderated for harmful
    and offensive language and comments).
  • User‐generated comments to media platforms for use in editorial content.

Twitter Specific

  • If using paid‐for Twitter endorsements, the hashtag ‘#ad’ is required.
  • The advertiser could be liable for re‐tweeting a customer’s tweet that is
    inaccurate or misleading.

The ASA also advises advertisers to develop social media policies and have their social media pages moderated to remove any content that may be deemed offensive or misleading to the greater public. If you would like assistance to develop your social media policy call 03 474 1075 or email

To read the full PDF regarding ASA’s policy on social media, ASA Guidance Notes on Social Media October 2012.